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The war that never ends between the Koreas

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 - 01:56

June 17 - South Koreans living in the border islands in the disputed waters with North Korea say Pyongyang is making life riskier for residents. Sarah Toms reports.

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On a clear day, residents on Yeonpyeong Island can see North Korea, only 10 kilometres away. This South Korean border island is one of five, along the maritime frontier marking the two countries. But the frontier is not recognised by North Korea, in fact it's not recognised internationally either. That makes tensions especially high for the people living here. On the beaches rows of anti-landing spikes and barbed wire fences frame the coast. While long-range cruise missiles, capable of striking the North Korean capital of Pyongyang sit on the cliff-tops. (SOUNDBITE) (Korean) HEAD OF YEONPYEONG ISLAND RESIDENTS' ASSOCIATION CHOI SUNG-IL SAYING: "When I was little, the sound of artillery was like a lullaby to me. But since the 2010 bombing, every time I hear the sounds of gunfire or artillery during military exercises, I start to feel jittery." North Korea warships and fishing boats routinely sail over the line, which has led to a spate of sea battles. There has also been artillery fire -- like this one from North Korea in 2010 -- over the past 15 years. The North Korean military has also been making money selling Chinese ships the rights to fish in these waters, which are rich in blue crab. Chase scenes between the South Koran navy and Chinese fishing boats are an almost daily occurrence. Analysts say the disputed maritime frontier, the economic and strategic importance of the area, and a history of violent confrontations make this area a power keg, that would take little to ignite. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PROFESSOR OF INTERNATIONAL STUDIES AT YONSEI UNIVERSITY, JOHN DELURY SAYING: "And even when the states involve may not want to war, there's always a danger when you have third actors. And the dangerous third actor are these Chinese fishermen, who are coming over and operating both in North Korean and South Korean water. And so they increase the risk of an unidentified vessel that triggers some kind of unintended military conflict.". An armistice between the two Koreas was signed in 1953 but the two countries remain technically at war, no one feels that more than these residents on Yeonpyeong Island, living in one of the most dangerous flashpoints in the world.

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The war that never ends between the Koreas

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 - 01:56