South Korea carried out its military exercises Monday afternoon without the much publicized threat of a response from North Korea. At approximately 2:30pm (local time or 12:30am EST), the drills began on Yeonpyeong Island and lasted about an hour. South Korean troops fired artillery guns insisting they were aimed south-west, away from North Korea. Residents of Yeonpyeong and several other islands had been ordered to take cover in air-raid shelters early on Monday.
When the North shelled the island last month, supposedly in retaliation for the South’s "provocation", it was the first time it had shelled civilian areas since the 1950-53 Korean War. Yeonpyeong is located close to the two countries’ sea border, the Northern Limit Line, a border drawn up at the end of the war that has always been disputed by the North.
An emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council failed to produce any sort of statement about the tensions between the two Koreas. China, a strong partner with North Korea would not agree to anything condemning Pyongyang.
At the moment, U.S. politician Bill Richardson is in North Korea on an unofficial visit. Richardson, governor of New Mexico is attempting to ease tensions with the Stalinist state and has been reported as describing the situation as a "tinderbox". With 28,000 American troops stationed in South Korea, there can be no doubt that the U.S. would be drawn into the situation if a conflict erupted.
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