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Two yrs after N.K. attack, Yeonpyeong Island sees more residents, visitors
SEOUL, Nov. 23 (Yonhap) -- The population and visitors on South Korea's Yeongpyeong Island near the Yellow Sea border with North Korea has increased since it was bombarded by the communist country two years ago.

   South Korea on Friday commemorated the second anniversary of North Korea's shelling of the island near the tensely guarded western sea, which killed two Marines and two civilians.

   It marks the first attack on South Korean soil since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. The conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, leaving the sides technically still at war.


According to the data by the home affairs ministry, the number of residents on the island came to 2,049 as of October this year, up by 15.6 percent from 1,772 in November 2010, with the number of visitors soaring by 54 percent to 35,070 in 2011 from a year earlier, the data showed.

   The increase in the number of residents is attributed to the government's efforts to beef up support for those who live on western border islands to enhance stability and safety as they face constant threats from the North.

   The measures include setting up dozens of emergency shelters and modernizing safety facilities for the islanders. The islanders are also entitled to receive a monthly subsidy for marine transportation costs and other living expenses.

   Following the 2010 attack, the central and local government so far spent a total of 129.9 billion won (US$119.6 million) to expand support for residents on five western border islands -- Yeonpyeong, Baengnyeong, Daecheong, Socheong and Udo -- all located just south of the maritime border with the communist North. They are areas where the two Koreas frequently engage in skirmishes.

   The government also earmarked 38.5 billion won for next year's budget for the islanders and is waiting for parliamentary approval, the ministry said.

Yeonpyeong Island. (Yonhap file photo)