South Korea marks the 11th anniversary of an inter-Korean naval skirmish this month to pay homage to six soldiers killed while safeguarding the Northern Limit Line, a de facto maritime border.
Triggered by two North Korean patrol ships violating the NLL on June 29, 2002, the second Yeonpyeong Battle, named after a frontline island in the West Sea, left six seamen dead and 19 others wounded.
South Korea’s warship Chamsuri-357 was sunk during the battle, which followed the first naval clash in the area in 1999. A replica of the ship is on display at the War Memorial of Korea in central Seoul to honor the fallen soldiers’ ultimate sacrifice.
Navy officers involved in the inter-Korean battle off the coast of Yeonpyeongdo Island in the West Sea in 1999 attend a memorial service at a naval base in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, on June 12. (Yonhap News)
The western sea border has long been a flashpoint as Pyongyang has disputed it on the grounds that it was unilaterally drawn by the U.S.-led U.N. Command at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.
Pyongyang also torpedoed the South Korean corvette Cheonan near the tense border, killing 46 sailors, in March 2010 and shelled Yeonpyeongdo Island, killing two marines and two civilians, eight months later.
To honor the late sailors and raise public awareness of the challenge of protecting the NLL, Rosetta Cinema, a private movie production firm, is making a film about the skirmish. It is scheduled to be screened in October. CJ Entertainment & Media will be its distributor.
The firm has gotten financial support of some 1 billion won ($885,000) from the Korean Film Council, but it still is short of funding. Aware of this, families of naval soldiers, government officials, politicians and others have joined a donation campaign to support the production.
On Monday, the families, joined by naval employees, held a fund-raising event in Jinhae, South Gyeongsang Province, selling soft drinks, clothes, cosmetics and other items to citizens.
By Song Sang-ho (firstname.lastname@example.org