North Korea launched artillery shells at a South Korean island, Yeongpyeong, on Tuesday. Two South Korean marines were killed and 14 others were injured. This is the biggest confrontation since North Korea sank a South Korean submarine in March 2010.
South Korea said the attack was a violation of the 57-year-old ceasefire that brought the Korean War to a standstill. South Korea responded to the attack with artillery fire.
The United States, Britain, Russia, China and Japan condemned the attack. The Obama administration told North Korea to “halt its belligerent action."
Some analysts believe the attacks were done to invite world attention to North Korea’s situation and show its strength. The North may be looking for food aid or reduction of sanctions, according to The New York Times.
Donald Gregg, former U.S. ambassador to North Korea under President George H.W. Bush, said the U.S. needs to be negotiating with North Korea. However, the White House is not pursuing negotiations nor showing a strong reaction, according to Reuters. It would be too soon for the White House to negotiate with North Korea, said Victor Cha, former director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council in President George W. Bush administration.
China is the closest thing to an ally for North Korea. It could use its leverage to encourage dialogue in six party talks, said Gregg.
There are doubts over placing more sanctions North Korea, which already has massive sanctions on it, said Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell.
How should the U.S. respond to the attack on South Korea from North Korea?