Tuesday, November 10, 2009

North Korean naval ship badly damaged after clash with ROK vessel

There are reports that at 11:28 a.m., Korea time, a North Korean ship crossed the NLL (Northern Limit Line/황해 북방한계선) in the Yellow Sea (황해, Hwanghae; aka 서해, Sŏhae), the de facto maritime border between the two Koreas, prompting the ROK Navy to fire at it, after which the DPRK boat fired back. [UPDATE 4: Reuters is saying that the vehicles actually collided, causing damage to both.]

[UPDATE 1: The New York Times is reporting that the incident occurred near Taech'ŏng-do Island (대청도/大靑島, aka Daecheong-do), which is surrounded by the disputed waters (from the top it's the second in the cluster of three islands at the upper left portion of the map). The NYT is also saying that warning broadcasts were given before "warning shots" were fired, after which the North Koreans fired at the ROK speedboats and the South returned fire. Nine fishing boats in the area were safely evacuated.]

[UPDATE 2: According to The Marmot, KBS is reporting that the North Korean boat itself may have been chasing away a Chinese boat that was illegally fishing in "Korean waters." Ah, the Chinese... Is there anything we can't blame you for? The Marmot also notes that the South Korean boat followed the rules of engagement, and this is "the first inter-Korean naval incident in seven years."]

[UPDATE 3: Other media are carrying the story now, including the Christian Science Monitor and the BBC, which has some serious problems with its maps. Yonhap is reporting that North Korea is demanding an apology for sending warships into DPRK waters and shooting at its boat as it was returning to port after a routine patrol. Bad joojoo. It's Yonhap's picture below, a rare occasion when they don't emblazon "Yonhap News" across the front; maybe the letters were lost at sea... heh heh heh.]

Unlike past incidents such as a deadly confrontation in 2002, there were no South Korean casualties, and reports indicate that the North Korean boat has returned to its side of the NLL. North Korea, it bears noting, does not recognize the legitimacy of the NLL as a border between the DPRK and the ROK, and it occasionally pushes the envelope with ROK ships as a result.

I've been planning this for sometime, but in terms of international law, Pyongyang may have something of a case. ROK has determined territorial waters on the west coast, essentially, to favor a pre-war configuration (see blue line above). But on the east coast, such a configuration would lop off a huge chunk of H2O and hand it to the Dear Leader, so a post-war configuration is recognized. Essentially, the ROK is having its cake on the west coast, and eating it on the east coast. [To be fair to the South, the North proposal (above in red) does not exactly follow conventions of equidistance, but it deviates less than the NLL does.]

But since North Korea started a fratricidal war that devastated the South and killed millions, I say fu¢k 'em. That's what they get. I know that ain't particularly diplomatic, but did I mention the war? Sign a friggin' peace treaty if you don't like it.

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