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North Korea attack destroys church building

North Korea’s attack has shattered the only Catholic Church on Yeonpyeong-do Island.

All Catholics including Father Joseph Kim Tae-heon, the parish priest, are safe as they evacuated to a bomb shelter as soon as the island came under North Korean artillery shelling on Nov. 23.

While 80 percent of the residents have since left, the parish priest has opted to stay on the island with those remaining.

Two bombs fell on the church premises. Windows of the main church building were damaged. The old rectory was partly demolished and a van was destroyed, said Father Johannes Kim Yong-hwan, chancellor of Incheon diocese.

The tiny South Korean island near the maritime border with North Korea on the Yellow Sea has one Catholic Church. There are about 450 Catholics among the 1,700 local residents.

According to South Korea military, the Nov. 23 surprise attack killed two marines, two civilians, injured 13 marines and three civilians.

South Korean officials reported that the North fired 200 artillery shells onto Yeonpyeong-do Island setting more than 60 buildings ablaze. The South returned fire with about 80 shells.

The clash brought the North and South — technically still at war since the Korean armistice in 1953 — close to a major tit-for-tat conflagration. It effectively undid recent tentative steps to renew ties, such as helping the North with food aid and uniting families living on opposite sides of the border since the Korean War

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Thu Jan 21 2021 10:59 AM
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