By Kang Hyun-kyung
A high-ranking government official reportedly said Wednesday that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il approved the artillery attack on Yeongpyeong Island near the maritime border in the West Sea, Tuesday.
Citing a government source, the Munhwa Ilbo newspaper reported that the North Korean military’s release of its official statement taking responsibility for the incident was evidence supporting Kim’s approval of the attack.
Kim is commander-in-chief of the North Korean military.
“The Ministry of People’s Armed Forces issued a statement acknowledging its responsibility for the coastal artillery shelling four hours and 20 minutes after the artillery attack,” the source was quoted as saying.
“The statement is considered as a public announcement of Kim Jong-il’s approval on the bombardment.”
North Korea fired 170 shells across the border, killing two marines and injuring 19 including three civilians.
South Korean marines returned fired, as the nation’s military was placed on its highest non-wartime alert level.