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(LEAD) N. Korea hints at no provocation against S. Korea's shelling drills
SEOUL, Dec. 20 (Yonhap) -- North Korea did not feel the need to retaliate against South Korea's live-fire drill off Yeonpyeong Island in the Yellow Sea, the North's official media said Monday.

   The North's reaction came about three hours after South Korea concluded a 94-minute live-fire exercise around 4:04 p.m. off Yeonpyeong Island, which was shelled by North Korea last month, but no immediate provocative moves from the North were detected.

   "The revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK did not feel any need to retaliate against every despicable military provocation like one taking revenge after facing a blow," said the (North) Korea Central News Agency, monitored here.

   DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's official name.

   The report was announced under the name of the Supreme Command of the (North) Korean People's Army.

   The command, however, said that the second and third powerful retaliatory strikes to be made by the North's armed forces will lead to blowing up the military bases of the U.S. and South Korea.

   Given the North's remarks, the North may not take military actions against the South's shelling drill, experts said.

   "It might not have been easy for the North to counteract militarily against the South's drill under the situation that the international community placed its attention toward the drill and the U.S. army stationed in South Korea joined it," Lee Sang-hyun, an expert at the Sejong Institute, a security think tank south of Seoul, said by phone.

   ksnam@yna.co.kr
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