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As Tension Rises, South Korea Mourns Two Marines Killed In North Korean Attack


Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi spoke by phone with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi spoke by phone with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

South Korea has held funerals for the two marines killed by the North's shelling of an island this week.

The November 27 funeral comes as Seoul prepares joint military maneuvers with the United States that have "enraged" Pyongyang and worry China.

The funeral ceremony in the capital, Seoul, was attended by relatives, politicians, and military officials including South Korea's chief marine commander, Yoo Nak-joon, who vowed to retaliate on North Korea.

"We marines and ex-marines will put our feelings of rage and animosity in our bones and take revenge against North Korea," he said.

The two soldiers, Sergeant Seo Jeong-woo and Private Moon Gwang-wuk, and two civilian construction workers were killed in the November 23 strike on South Korea's Yeonpyeong Island.

North Korea has said that if any civilians died in the shelling, "it is very regrettable."

At a briefing, Lee Bung-woo, a spokesman for South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the purpose of the military exercises with the United States was "to strengthen our deterrence power against North Korea and to improve our security in our territory, and to improve U.S.-South Korean cooperation."

North Korea has warned against the war games calling them an "unpardonable provocation" and warning of retaliatory attacks creating a "sea of fire" if its own territory is violated.

The comments ran on North Korea's state-run Uriminzokkiri website a day after the North's warnings that the peninsula was on the "brink of war" and that the people and the army were "greatly enraged."

Bid To Cool Tensions

As the tensions mount, China and the United States held talks about how to cool tensions between Seoul and Pyongyang. Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi spoke by phone with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Officials said their priority was to avoid a recurrence of last week's violence.

China, North Korea's only major ally, has said it is determined to prevent an escalation of the crisis while warning against military acts near its coast. The United States has said that the war games were planned well before the attack on the island and that they are "not directed" at Beijing.

Meanwhile on November 27 in Seoul, 1,000 South Korean military veterans protested, burning the North Korean flag and portraits of Pyongyang's leaders and calling for a stronger response to North Korea's attack on Yeonpyeong Island.

The protesters called for revenge and condemned what they described as the North's "atrocity."

"We cannot tolerate North Korea's barbaric provocations any more. We ex-marines will lead the rally to show our decisiveness to punish North Korea. That's why we are here," one of the protest leaders said.

The attack has deeply shaken South Korea and strained nerves across the region.

with agency reports
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