S. Korea Beefs Up Defense, the North Warns of 'Waves of Retaliation'

South Korea sends more troops and weapons to border with the North.

ByAlexander Marquardt and Jessica Hopper
November 25, 2010, 4:12 PM

Nov. 25, 2010 — -- The bodies of the two South Korean civilians killed this week by the North's artillery attack arrived today on the mainland for burial.

Criticism of South Korea's measured response to the Tuesday shelling attack on Yeonpyeong Island, the North's first attack on civilians on South Korean soil since the Korean War ended 57 years ago, prompted the country's president to beef up defense measures.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak ordered more troops and advanced weaponry to the maritime border with North Korea, including the island that was hit, warning that another attack could be imminent. He called for more aggressive rules of engagement.

"We should not ease our sense of crisis in preparation for the possibility of another provocation by North Korea," spokesman Hong Sang-pyo said, quoting the South Korean president. "A provocation like this can recur any time."

The move to raise the number of ground troops reverses a 2006 decision to draw down forces. South Koreans, enraged with fury for North Korea, called for action.

"We should punish the North's deliberate provocation," one man told ABC News.

Such frustration was targeted at their own country, too. Many people in South Korea said their military responded too slowly, pointing to the 13 minutes it took South Korea to answer North Korea's barrage of artillery.

President Myung-bak today accepted the resignation of his defense minister. Korean television also broadcast animations showing how bunker-busting rockets and fighter jets could destroy the North's military installations.

For its part, North Korea vowed "waves of retaliation" if provoked. It claimed that Tuesday's attack was provoked by the South Korean navy's firing into its territorial water during military exercises. The exercises will continue with the USS George Washington and four other Navy ships heading to the Yellow Sea, west of the Korean peninsula, to begin joint exercises with South Korea Sunday.

In a statement from the U.S. Navy's Seventh Fleet, the military exercises are described as a measure to show the United States' "commitment to regional stability through deterrence."

The exercises were planned before the artillery attack.

Thanksgiving for U.S. Troops Stationed in South Korea

About 28,000 U.S. troops are based in South Korea and Thanksgiving was one of the more tense holidays Americans have celebrated there in recent years.

At Camp Red Cloud outside the capital of Seoul, soldiers received turkey and corn bread but longed for home.

"I think I miss my family's craziness a little bit ... because it's not loud over here," Pvt. Crystal Javalera said.

Loud is exactly what everyone is trying to avoid. China, North Korea's staunchest ally, called for the North and South to exercise maximum restraint.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao was careful not to name North Korea specifically or say that it was to blame for the attack. China is North Korea's sole ally and main economic partner.

"China has all along devoted itself to maintaining the peninsula's peace and stability, and opposed military provocations in any forms," he said.

Many, including President Obama, are calling on China to do more to rein in the unpredictable north.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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