(SEOUL, South Korea) -- South Korea's military conducted hour-long live-fire artillery drills from Yeonpyong Island near the west sea Monday amid threats from North Korea that it will retaliate on a massive scale. The island was shelled by North Korea last month, resulting in the deaths of two civilians and two marines.
South Korea sent navy warships with missile capabilities and fighter jets to roam the area in case North Korea attacks again. So far, there have been no immediate signs of any North Korean retaliation.
At the center of the dispute is the maritime border. South Korea recognizes a northern boundary drawn after the Korean War in 1953. North Korea began to insist in 1999 that the border should be further south. There are five small islands within that area where thousands of South Koreans reside, protected by the military forces.
South Korea's navy has been conducting drills every month for the past 37 years, according to a high-level official from the Ministry of Defense. Seoul insists these drills are not designed to intimidate the North and stressed that the live-fire is aimed towards the southeast, away from North Korean territory.
Monday's drills were observed by representatives of the United Nations Military Armistice Commission and the U.S. military forces.
Residents on Yeonpyong Island have often been victims of small-scale skirmishes that have occurred in the past, and they have been ordered, along with officials and journalists, to stay inside underground bunkers. The South Korean military has distributed gas masks and food to last for at least two days.
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