North, South Korea Exchange Artillery Fire

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BY CHRISTINE SLUSSER AND CHRISTINA HARTMAN You're watching multisource video world news analysis from N...
BY CHRISTINE SLUSSER AND CHRISTINA HARTMAN You're watching multisource video world news analysis from Newsy. South Korea is on its highest level of alert -- short of war -- after exchanging artillery fire with North Korea on the disputed island of Yeonpyeong: An attack it is blaming on North Korean provocation. (Video from Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation) South Korea’s government is holding emergency meetings to discuss its response -- though South Korean President Lee Myung Bak is urging calm in the aftermath of the attack. This as Western media speculate whether the two Koreas are on the brink of war. First to MSNBC, which reports the South Korean island was bombarded with artillery. TAMRON HALL: “A South Korean island is smoldering this morning after North Korea initiated one of the worst attacks on its neighbor since the Korean War ended nearly half a century ago.” JIM MIKLASZEWSKI: “Even for the unpredictable North Korea, this latest action is alarming. The North Korean military pounded a South Korean island, with as many as 100 artillery shells, killing two North Korean Marines and several civilians.” An ABC Australia correspondent says tensions between the two Koreas have never been higher -- in light of North Korea sinking the South Korean warship Cheonan in March. But he says this time -- the North was particularly provocative. “What’s different about this is that it was during the day, and it was also targeted against a land facility. It was into a residential area, and also at a military base. So it was a very brazen attack indeed.” Several international analysts believe the North is using military action to force dialogue with the United States. A Korean policy expert tells The Daily NK, Kim Jong Il is also sending a message to the international community -- to be wary of his successor and son, Kim Jong Un. “North Korea committed this provocation in order to strengthen internal solidarity for the stability of the succession system and particularly to show off internationally that there are no problems in the succession.” The exchange occurred in the middle of what has become, routine training for possible warfare. CNN speculates on what caused the live fire exchange in the first place. ANDREW SALMON: “They were firing as a routine firing exercise and they were firing to the west and to the south, not in the direction of the North Korea mainland. It is important to point out, at least according to the South Koreans, this was a firing exercise, not live fire.” China is calling for both sides to work toward “peace and stability” -- while the White House said early Tuesday it “strongly condemns” North Korea’s attack on the South. How does South Korea respond? London’s Financial Times suggests there may not be a lot of options. “[The attack] is forcing Seoul into an agonising debate over how many bloody provocations it can tolerate before it has to retaliate.” An editorial in the English-language version of South Korea’s Joongang Daily attempts to answer that question with the headline, “Time for Retaliation.” “With our memories of the Korean War still vivid, this massive attack confirms again the grim reality that such a tragedy can be repeated at any time. We strongly warn the North that if it still prefers to play with fire, it is soon destined to be demolished by the fire it ignited first.” So, are the Koreas on the brink of war? Get more multisource video news analysis from Newsy Transcript by Newsy