South Korea’s military staged live-fire drills from an island just miles (kilometers) from rival North Korea’s shores Monday, despite Pyongyang’s threats of catastrophic retaliation for the maneuvers.
Seoul launched fighter jets, evacuated hundreds of people away from its tense land border with the North and sent residents of front-line islands into underground bunkers in case of attack, but the North finally said it would hold its own fire.
The 90-minute exercise came nearly a month after the North responded to earlier maneuvers by shelling Yeonpyeong Island, killing two marines and two construction workers in its first attack targeting civilian areas since the 1950-53 Korean War. That clash sent tensions soaring between the two countries — which are still technically at war.
In an emergency meeting Sunday, U.N. diplomats meeting in New York failed to find any solution to the crisis, but there was some sign of diplomacy Monday, as a high-profile American governor announced what he said were two nuclear concessions from the North.
North Korea called Monday’s drills a “reckless military provocation” but said after they ended that it was holding its fire because Seoul had changed its firing zones.