SEONGNAM, South Korea – Dignitaries placed white chrysanthemums on a funeral altar today as South Korea honored two marines killed in a North Korean artillery attack that was one of the worst bombardments of its territory since the 1950-’53 Korean War.
The South Korean marines commander vowed unspecified “thousand-fold” retaliation at the funeral, as the country geared up for joint military maneuvers with the U.S. starting Sunday that are likely to keep tensions soaring following the attack on a South Korean island – which also killed two civilians.
North Korea issued new warnings today against the Yellow Sea war games, calling them an “unpardonable provocation” and warning of retaliatory attacks that would “turn the stronghold of enemies into a sea of fire” if its own territory is violated.
The comments ran on the state-run Uriminzokkiri website, and came a day after the North’s warnings that the peninsula was on the “brink of war.”
China, under pressure from the U.S. and South Korea to rein in its ally Pyongyang, urged both sides to show restraint while Washington played down the belligerent rhetoric, noting that the weekend war games were routine and planned well before last week’s attack.
“The pressing task now is to put the situation under control and prevent a recurrence of similar incidents,” Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi told U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton by phone Friday, according to the ministry’s website.