| Feeling overwhelmed by the power of the South Korean military, North Korean soldiers in June 2002 requested flak jackets at the so-called Yeonpyeong Island naval skirmish, a North Korean defector said in an article released on the website New Focus on Tuesday.
Jang Jin-sung said, "Soldiers of the 8th Naval Forces wanted South Korean flak jackets. They asked for cotton clothing to prevent splinters from shells as a substitute for jackets."
A former writer for North Korea`s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, Jang said he heard this while interviewing wounded soldiers under orders from a secretary of the Workers` Party.
He said North Korean soldiers were afraid of the South Korean Navy`s devastator bullets, with one soldier suffering from as many as 230 splinters. Wounded soldiers stayed at a Pyongyang hospital and were isolated at a special ward under surveillance by defense headquarters to prevent the scale of damage from being leaked.
Jang said, "Soldiers said that under their captain`s order June 29 (2002), they stocked fuel and ammunition on the ship while welding the ship`s rear section before departure, meaning that the provocation was planned."
"The Yeonpyeong naval skirmish was one of the North`s strategies to threaten South Korea under the late former leader Kim Jong Il. Kim was pleased after being reported on the results of the battle, granting the soldiers hero status and badges as well as color TVs."