Source: Agencies | 2010-11-28 | NEWSPAPER EDITION
The mother of dead South Korean marine Moon Kwang-wook, who was killed by North Korea's artillery shells attack on Yeonpyeong Island, cries during a funeral at a military hospital in Seongnam, south of Seoul, yesterday. Four people were killed when North Korea lobbed scores of artillery shells at a South Korean island near the disputed sea border on Tuesday.
South Korea's marine commander yesterday vowed "thousand-fold" revenge for a North Korean attack that killed two servicemen as protesters demanded tougher action by the government against its reclusive neighbor.
President Lee Myung-bak told ministers and aides to be ready for further "provocation" by North Korea during joint military manoeuvres with the United States that start today.
"There is the possibility that North Korea may do some unexpected action, so please perfectly prepare against it through cooperation with the Korea-US joint force," Lee was quoted by a spokesman as saying.
The two marines were honored with a gun salute as families wailed and grim-faced officials saluted the funeral cortege, four days after North Korea rained shells on the tiny Yeonpyeong Island, which houses military bases and tiny fishing communities, in the heaviest attack on South Korea since the 1950-53 civil war.
Dozens of houses were destroyed in the attack.
Two marines and two civilians were killed in the attack. South Korea responded with artillery fire 13 minutes later, but it was not clear what damage was caused.
North Korea said that if there were civilian deaths, they were "very regrettable", but that South Korea should be blamed for forming a human shield.
It also said the United States should be blamed for "orchestrating" the whole sequence of events to justify sending in a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to join the maritime manoeuvres.
"All marines, including marines on service and reserve marines, will avenge the two at any cost, keeping today's anger and hostility in mind," said Lieutenant General Yoo Nak Joon, commander of the South Korean Marine Corps.
"We will put our feelings of rage and animosity in our bones and take our revenge on North Korea."
The funeral was followed by anti-North Korea protests in the capital as a US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier headed for the maneuvers with South Korea.
"It's time for action. Time for retaliation. Let's hit the presidential palace in Pyongyang," shouted close to 1,000 marine veterans in downtown Seoul who burnt photographs of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and his anointed successor, son Kim Jung-un.
Former members of the "Underwater Demolition Team," practiced in sabotage, protested against North Korea and against the government for ignoring their sacrifices on spy missions.
Scuffles broke out and police used fire extinguishers to break up the crowd.
"We can not help expressing our anger about the behavior of the defense ministry and the government in general that failed to take due retaliatory action," the protest group said.
A North Korean website (www.uriminzokkiri) operated by the government propaganda agency said the war drills were "another unforgivable military provocation".
"(North Korea) will make the stronghold of the enemy a sheet of flames if they violate its territory even by 0.01 mm."
The US military said the exercises, planned long before Tuesday's attack, were designed to deter North Korea.