President Lee Myung Bak, attending an event to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 2nd Battle of Yeongpyeong today, declared, “I, as Commander-in-Chief, will firmly protect our country, which was defended by the fallen soldiers on PKM-357.”
It was the first time an incumbent president has attended a commemorative event for the battle, which occurred in 2002.
Held at 2nd Fleet Command in Pyeongtaek, President Lee told the event’s attendees, “The six fallen soldier served the nation’s need by sacrificing their lives to defeat the invaders. The six new high-speed patrol boats which bear their names will protect our West Sea once more.”
He went on, “On June 29th, 2002, when South Korea was all aflutter over the World Cup, North Korea had detailed plans to surprise us. It was a period when South Korea was sending a lot of aid, and dialogue and exchanges were active. Perhaps we were caught up in a momentary illusion that there would be peaceful unification without war.”
However, he continued, “The Yeongpyeong sea battle, Cheonan sinking and Yeongpyeong shelling were no accidents; they were carefully planned provocations from North Korea. Only our resolute determination can block out and deter North Korea’s provocations.”
Nevertheless, he also claimed that the window of dialogue and cooperation with North Korea is still open. He underscored, “Reconciliation and cooperation are the trends of history; North Korea must abandon their Cold War era mindset and join the ranks of the peaceful.”