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N. Korea confirms death of sailor in last year's naval gunfight with S. Korea

All Headlines 13:43 November 08, 2010

By Sam Kim

SEOUL, Nov. 8 (Yonhap) -- In a report seen on Monday, North Korea confirmed the death of a sailor who fought last year in a skirmish with the South Korean Navy near their tense western sea border.

In its Oct. 16 report, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said a middle school in Pyongyang has been named after Kim Ju-hyok, "who bravely fought by sacrificing his life in a battle with enemy ships that encroached on our waters in November last year."

The Nov. 10 gunfight is believed to have led to deaths of North Korean troops after their patrol boat trespassed the Northern Limit Line (NLL) serving as a de facto border between the Koreas and opened fire on a South Korean naval vessel.

The North Korean ship retreated in flames while no casualties were reported on the South Korean side. Following the gunfight, North Korea said it repelled South Korean warships that had intruded into its side of the Yellow Sea border.

In the five-paragraph report, the KCNA said Kim, whose age or rank was not revealed, has been dubbed a "hero of the republic" and that a half-length statue of him has been erected at the school.

The navies of the two Koreas had also engaged in bloody skirmishes in 1999 and 2002 near the NLL, which North Korea refuses to honor, arguing it was unilaterally drawn by a U.S. commander at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War that ended in a truce.

In March this year, a South Korean warship sank south of the boundary in what Seoul has concluded as a torpedo attack by the North Korean Navy. Pyongyang denies any role and says it is willing to provide evidence to challenge a multinational investigation in May that pointed to the North as the culprit.


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