2010 saw a series of provocations by North Korea, including the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel by a North Korean torpedo and an artillery attack on the South’s Yeonpyeong Island.
On March 26th, the Navy’s 12-hundred-ton “Cheonan” patrol boat, with a crew of 104, sank in waters southwest of Baengnyeong Island in the Yellow Sea. The sinking of the ship resulted in the death of 46 sailors. On March 29th, Navy diver Warrant Officer Han Joo-ho, died during search and rescue operations for the missing crew of the Cheonan.
A joint military-civilian investigation team concluded in late May that the sinking of the “Cheonan” was caused by a North Korean torpedo. The team based its assessment on evidence gathered at the site where the ship went down.
Then, on November 23rd, North Korea staged an artillery attack on South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island. A Marine Corps unit on the island responded by firing shots of its own toward the North with K-9 self-propelled guns. Out of some 170 shots the North fired, around 80 landed on Yeonpyeong. The North’s shelling resulted in the death of two soldiers and two civilians.
The North’s shelling, which was apparently aimed at the South’s Marine Corps base on Yeonpyeong, also led to the destruction of a number of houses and public facilities.
In the wake of the North’s provocations, South Korea and the United States conducted massive joint naval drills in the Yellow Sea that saw the participation of the USS George Washington supercarrier.
The South Korean military also conducted maritime shooting drills at 29 sea locations in early December. On December 20th, the military conducted live-fire drills on Yeonpyeong as part of efforts to strongly counter further North Korean provocations.