On June 29, 2002, two North Korean patrol ships crossed into the South Korean-controlled area of the Yellow Sea and opened fire on a South Korean patrol ship, sinking it and killing four civilians. Happening during the final matches of the 2002 World Cup, which was jointly hosted by Seoul and Tokyo, the incident dashed hopes that the soccer tournament might warm relations between neighbors.
The skirmish occurred just after Washington had signaled it was ready to visit Pyongyang and resume peace talks, leading some analysts to speculate the incident was a North Korean delay tactic, the Monitor then reported.
As with the most recent exchange of fire, both the North and South blamed the other for initiating the attack. The South demanded an apology, which a North Korean Navy spokesman called "the height of impudence.'' CNN estimated then that some 30 North Korean sailors were killed or injured in retaliatory fire.
"The military provocation of preemptive firing by a North Korean Navy patrol ship is a clear violation of the armistice and an act that raises tension on the Korean peninsula. We cannot keep silent," said South Korean President Kim Dae-jun, echoing remarks that would be repeated by other leaders after skirmishes with the reclusive North.