March 7, 2012- Kim Kwan-Jin, the South Korean Defense Minister said on Wednesday he has told his soldiers a counter attack is needed if they are provoked by North Korea. The two countries are exchanging verbal attacks despite recently entering into a nuclear agreement.
Kwan-Jin said a fresh attack on South Korea from the North would give South Korean the opportunity to avenge the 2010 bombing by North Korea of an island near the border of the two countries.
He made his remarks while at Yeonpyeong Island close to the Yellow Sea border, where North Korea made artillery attacks killing four soldiers from South Korea and sparking fears that a war could breakout.
The trip by the defense minister followed one by Kim Jong-Un, the new leader of North Korea, who inspected the artillery unit on the coast that was responsible for shelling the island. He told his soldiers to retaliate if provoked by the South.
Last week, officials in North Korea said they would stop nuclear tests and its program of uranium enrichment in exchange for food aid from the United States. Nevertheless, its ties with South Korea continue to be strained.
Officials in South Korea said their neighbors to the North are likely increasing the verbal attacks as a way to try to influence elections that will be held next month in South Korea.