DPRK Statement on Armed Clash in West Sea

[June 30, 2002]

The following statement is reprinted from the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), internet edition.

Pyongyang, June 30 (KCNA) -- A spokesman for the navy command of the Korean People's Army gave the following answer to the question raised by the KCNA on Sunday regarding the false propaganda made by the South Korean military authorities about the armed clash that occurred in the West Sea:

As already reported, there was an unexpected exchange of fire between the two sides due to reckless armed provocations by South Korean naval vessels in the West Sea on June 29, causing losses of human lives and the sinking of a vessel.

This notwithstanding, the joint chiefs of staff of the South Korean Army provided to the media misinformation that two patrol boats of the navy of the Korean People's Army trespassed on the "northern boundary line" along with fishing boats in operation, and the navy of the south side opened fire in retaliation against the preemptive firing made by our patrol boats.

This was a premeditated sheer fabrication made to serve its sinister purpose of laying blame for the incident at our door.

It is well known to the world that the "northern boundary line," which the south Korean military claimed was crossed by our vessels, is a bogus line unilaterally and illegally drawn by it in the 1950s, and our side, therefore, has never recognized it.

The fact that the South Korean military amassed fishing boats and warships in the controversial waters under the pretext of this bogus line indicates that it admitted its intrusion itself.

Its talk about "fishing boats engaged in fishing" despite the fact that there was not a single boat of our side in those waters at that time clearly testifies to the falsity of information spread by the south side.

Warships and fishing boats of the south side intruded deep into the territorial waters of our side almost everyday recently, but the navy of the KPA exercised restraint in various ways, prompted by the desire to defuse the military tensions between the north and the south and taking the ongoing world soccer championships into consideration.

Nevertheless, the South Korean military sent more warships to those waters to mount a surprise attack on our side with two times as many warships as our naval patrol boats.

It is common sense that just two patrol boats are incapable of making a preemptive attack on a group of warships numerically superior to them and this is impossible under the situation where they are within the firing range of the opponent's coastal artillery.

The serious military provocation made by the South Korean military authorities is aimed to orchestrate a shocking incident at a time when the World Cup is going on and shift the blame for it onto the DPRK in a bid to chill the desire for inter-Korean reconciliation and reunification growing strong among the South Korean people, and impair the international prestige of the DPRK.

Indeed, the armed clash in the West Sea is a product of the anti-reunification and treacherous moves of the South Korean military authorities.

However, the South Korean Army chief is claiming that the north side should take "responsibility" and make "apology," over the incident.

This is the height of impudence.

With no false propaganda can the South Korean military authorities evade the responsibility for their criminal acts.

They should, first of all, admit the illegality of the so-called "northern boundary line."

The media should clearly distinguish between lies and truth and stop acting like a waiting maid in the base plot-breeding operation.