South Koreans are anxiously waiting to see if North Korea will make good on its threat to take military action in response to a live-fire artillery drill on Yeonpyeong island.
North Korea shelled the island last month, hours after a similar drill. South Korea’s marines conducted the exercise just hours after an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council failed to calm tensions on the Korean peninsula.
South Korea defied diplomatic pressure and went ahead Monday with firing artillery into the Yellow Sea, escalating its confrontation with the communist North.
Defense officials stress the shelling was to the southwest, away from North Korea. But Pyongyang has threatened to retaliate, contending the waters are its territory. It warned that the exercise risks starting a war.
South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Kim Young-sun says the exercise is routine and legitimate.
Kim says the artillery drill is for self-defense and part of the country’s sovereign right.
A few hours before the exercise, the United Nations Security Council failed to reach a consensus on lowering tensions on the Korean peninsula.
Diplomats say China, among other nations, would not back a statement condemning North Korea for recent aggressive behavior, including the shelling of Yeonpyeong island last month.