The List: Tension on the Korean peninsula

A former South Korean underwater demolition team member shouts a slogan during an anti-government rally in front of the Defense Ministry in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010. (Photo: Associated Press)A former South Korean underwater demolition team member shouts a slogan during an anti-government rally in front of the Defense Ministry in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010. (Photo: Associated Press)
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There have been numerous military clashes on the divided Korean peninsula since the cease-fire of the Korean War in 1953. From 1955, 887 North Koreans, 418 South Koreans and 89 Americans have died in clashes. In light of the attack on Yeonpyeong Island on Tuesday, The List looks at some notable incidences over the years in reverse chronological. 

  • Bombing of Yeonpyeong Island — Two South Korean marines and two civilians are killed after North Korean forces fire dozens of shells at a South Korean military base on Yeonpyeong Island on Nov. 23, 2010. It is one of the worst clashes on the Korean peninsula since the Korean War.
  • Cheonan — On March 26, 2010, the South Korean warship Cheonan is sunk by a North Korean submarine. Forty-six South Korean sailors died in the incident. The North has denied any role in the incident.
  • Second battle of Yeonpyeong — While South Korea was co-hosting the 2002 World Cup, a naval skirmish on June 29 between North Korea and South Korea patrol boats near Yeonpyeong Island resulted in the deaths of 13 North Koreans and four South Koreans. 
  • First battle of Yeonpyeong — A prolonged naval standoff between vessels from the North Korea and South Korea off the Yeonpyeong Island escalated on June 15, 1999. A North Korean torpedo boat was sunk and several others were heavily damaged. More than 30 North Koreans died in the incident.
  • Spy boat grounded — On Sept. 17, 1996, a disabled North Korean spy submarine with 26 North Korean military personnel and crew ran aground on the east coast near the tourist beach of Jeongdongjin. The North Korean spies killed the 11-man crew so they would not defect. Over a period of 49 days, 13 of the spies were killed as they tried to get back over the DMZ. The fleeing North Koreans killed 13 South Korean soldiers and four civilians.
  • Daegu — A North Korean infiltrator killed two civilians and wounded another in Daegu in September 1984, before committing suicide.
  • Spy boat — In June 1981 a North Korean spy boat was sunk off Seosan, with nine agents killed and one captured.
  • Axe murder incident — Two U.S. Army officers are killed in the neutral Joint Security Area near the DMZ while trimming trees by axe-wielding North Korean soldiers on Aug. 18, 1976. Four U.S. soldiers and five South Korean soldiers were also injured. 
  • Assassination attempt — On Aug. 15, 1974, a Japanese-born North Korean sympathizer attempted to assassinate President Park Chung-Hee in Seoul but killed the first lady instead. The agent, Mun Segwang, was executed.
  • Tunnels — In November of 1974, the first of what would be a series of North Korean infiltration tunnels under the DMZ was discovered.
  • USS Pueblo — On Jan. 23, 1968, the North Korean Navy captured the USS Pueblo, an American spy ship operating under the guise of conducting oceanic research, along with the 82 crew on board. One crew member was killed in the initial skirmish; the rest spent 11 months in North Korean captivity. 
  • The Blue House attack — A North Korean commando team infiltrated Seoul on Jan. 21, 1968, in an attempt to blow up the Blue House — the presidential office — and kill President Park Chung Hee. The infiltrators got within 600 yards of the Blue House before a gunfight broke out. Twenty-nine North Koreans were tracked down and shot. One was captured. At least 68 South Koreans were killed. Most of these casualties came during the operation to hunt down the commandos. 
  • Camp Walley — The isolated small barracks of Camp Walley near the DMZ was bombed on May 21, 1967, by a North Korean combat engineer unit, which had infiltrated through the American patrolled area of the DMZ. Two U.S. soldiers were killed, and 17 were wounded while they slept.
  • Camp Liberty Bell attack — On Aug. 28, 1967, North Korean commandos crossed the DMZ and attacked Charlie Company 76th Engineer Battalion at Camp Liberty Bell, leaving one American and two Korean troops dead.
  • Cease-fire — On July 27, 1953, the American-led U.N. Command, which fought on South Korea’s side, and North Korea sign a cease-fire. The United States suffered 33,686 battle deaths and 2,830 non-battle deaths during the Korean War.
  • Korean War — On June 25, 1950, North Korea invades South Korea, triggering the 1950-53 Korean War.

Compiled by John Haydon

Sources: GlobalSecurity.org; the Advertiser; BBC; Associated Press

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