“We never thought they would attack civilians,” Mr. Hong said Saturday as he and other survivors sat somberly drinking soju, an alcoholic beverage, near a makeshift shrine to the two men in this South Korean port city. “North Korean soldiers have full stomachs from our support, and now they repay us by firing at us. Next time, we should repay them by shooting them back.”And therein lies the conundrum. If only we could move Seoul out of the way. Or let the North Koreans know that South Korean and American planes could rain down on Pyongyang the same damage North Korea inflicts on Seoul, and then some. Mutually assured dicktitude.
The South did shoot back, but many Koreans consider the limited response feeble compared with the hourlong artillery barrage on Tuesday, in which North Korea rained about 180 shells on the island, killing the civilians and two South Korean marines.
The ferocity of the attack and the deaths of the civilians appear to have started a shift in South Koreans’ conflicted emotions about their countrymen in the North, and not just among those who were shot at.
After years of backing food aid and other help for the North despite a series of provocations that included two nuclear tests, many South Koreans now say they feel betrayed and angry.
“I think we should respond strongly toward North Korea for once instead of being dragged by them,” said Cho Jong-gu, 44, a salesman in Seoul. “This time, it wasn’t just the soldiers. The North mercilessly hurt the civilians.”
One Free Korea focuses on this article in a discussion of whether South Koreans are "finally ready to cut North Korea off":
If this report is accurate, it suggests that sympathy for North Korea may shift from being a relatively insignificant factor in a politician’s electability to a political liability. It may mean that Lee Myung Bak will have political cover to do what he should have done years ago and close Kaesong for good (Kaesong’s business model always depended on attracting foreign investment, and North Korea pretty much foreclosed any chance of that with some belligerent meddling starting in late 2008). It could also mean the end of inter-Korean food and fertilizer aid, which was never sufficiently monitored to prevent it from being diverted to the military and those inhabiting the top tier of the North’s political caste system. The end of South Korea’s remaining aid to the North would represent a very significant policy shift. It would also be, in my view, a more appropriate response than military action, something that feels better to call for in the abstract than after the next shells start falling. Until now, South Korean voters weren’t ready to cut up Kim Jong Il’s credit card. Has that changed?As with just about anything at OFK, it's a worthwhile read.
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