Issue 1 - January 2011
Yeonpyeong on Wikipedia
- By Maproom
On November 23rd, between 05:34 and 06:41(UTC), artillery on the North Korean mainland shelled a South Korean island, Daeyeonpyeong, killing two South Korean marines and two South Korean civilians: headline news. I want to comment on the Wikipedia article about it, created at 06:58, from the angle of maps. Early versions of the Wikipedia article gave the impression that it was an unprovoked attack by North Korea. On November 25 the map shown was added to the article by user Tomchen1989, with red and blue lines. Soon after that, user Prioryman added the explanation: A United Nations Command Northern Limit Line of 1953; B North Korea-declared West Sea Military Demarcation Line of 1999. I.E., the blue line is the maritime frontier claimed by South Korea, and the red line is that claimed by North Korea. The disputed waters are fishing grounds.
From an ABC News article cited in early versions of the article, "South Korea says it was conducting regular military drills ... but that its firing exercises did not aim to the North." From the map you will see that shells fired north, south, east, or west from Yeonpyeong Island (1) will all enter waters claimed by North Korea. The South Korean military was firing southwards, away from the North Korean mainland, but into waters claimed by North Korea. North Korea asked them to stop but they continued firing. North Korea returned fire, destroying the South Korean artillery on the island, and it acted as almost any military does when its territory is attacked. Wikipedia deserves praise for providing the information, and particularly the map, that allowed me to make sense of this incident. In my view, it became clear that this was not an unprovoked attack.