Military Knew of N.Korean Artillery Move Before Attack

The North Korean military moved a battalion of 122-mm multiple rocket launchers from the Fourth Corps to a coastal artillery base in Kaemori in Kangryong, South Hwanghae Province just before shelling Yeonpyeong Island on Tuesday, but despite detecting the move in advance, the South Korean military fired back at the base along the shoreline in Mudo, not Kaemori. This raises concerns about the ability of the military to deal with attacks.

A senior military said several hours before the shelling began the North Korean military deployed one battery of six 122-mm MRLs and later two batteries of 12 112-mm MRLs. It also carried out preparatory shooting practice just before the attack. "As far as I know the South Korean military was aware of this," he said.

The 122-mm MRLs are not stationed at the North's coastal artillery bases and had to be moved to Kaemori, so the activity should have put the South Korean military on high alert.

A photo taken from Yeonpyeong Island on Thursday (bottom) reveals a newly built guard post and road near the Kaemori artillery base in Kangryong, South Hwanghae Province in North Korea that are not seen in a photo of the base taken in November last year (top). A photo taken from Yeonpyeong Island on Thursday (bottom) reveals a newly built guard post and road near the Kaemori artillery base in Kangryong, South Hwanghae Province in North Korea that are not seen in a photo of the base taken in November last year (top).

But forces on the ground were not even aware that the MRLs were being fired at South Korean territory in the initial wave of the attack between 2:34 and 2:46 p.m., and they responded by firing at Mudo, not Kaemori.

Believing that K-9 self-propelled howitzers would not be able to carry out an accurate strike on North Korea's coastal artillery base, the South Korean military focused on targeting command posts and barracks, so until it confirmed the location of North Korea's MRLs using radar system just before the second phase of shelling, North Korea was able to fire with impunity.

The military authority has not been able to give a clear explanation what weapons were used by North Korea. It initially announced that coastal artillery was used and then changed the story to a mixture of coastal artillery and howitzers.

englishnews@chosun.com / Nov. 26, 2010 13:23 KST