North Korea is mounting a propaganda drive to justify its deadly bombardment of a South Korean border island in the face of international condemnation, South Korean organizations said yesterday.
Two Seoul groups said they received a fax arguing that the South provoked the Nov. 23 attack and calling for peace in the Yellow Sea.
The message was sent in the name of the Chosun (Korea) Christian Federation and the 6.15 Declaration Joint Committee for Korean Reunification — a reference to the historic inter-Korean summit on June 15, 2000.
It argues that blame for the shelling lies with the South’s “provocative” military exercise and its failure to respect summit declarations.
“The fax came through China and we’ve reported it to the unification ministry,” a spokesman for the South’s National Council of Churches said.
The ministry, which handles cross-border affairs, declined to comment.
The South Korean counterpart of the 6.15 Committee said the North sends such faxes every time big incidents happen.
The artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island killed two civilians and two marines.
On Thursday the North said through its news agency that South Korean “puppet warmongers” provoked the incident to try to spark a wider conflict.
It repeated claims it was merely retaliating for a South Korean military drill which had dropped “thousands of shells” into the North’s waters around the disputed Yellow Sea border.
The US and South Korean militaries last week staged their biggest-ever joint naval exercise as a warning to the North, and their top officers said this week they plan more war games.
The North’s ruling party daily Rodong Sinmun said the meeting of military chiefs shows that Seoul and Washington are preparing an invasion.
“The US should stop its criminal actions of military cooperation with South Koreans who seek war on the Korean peninsula, and should withdraw all their military resources from the South,” the paper said.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, in a newspaper interview during a visit to Malaysia, again called the North one of the world’s most belligerent nations, but Lee told the Star newspaper the two Koreas would have to co-exist peacefully and, in the end, bring about reunification, which he said was more likely as people in the North become more aware of the South’s affluence.
Lee said that North Korea’s new understanding of circumstances in the outside world was “an important change that no one can stop.” His comments were posted on the presidential Web site.