Mark Mcdonald
The New York Times
December 6, 2010

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SEOUL, South Korea — Brushing aside North Korean warnings of war, South Korea began live-fire artillery drills near their disputed maritime border on Monday, less than two weeks after the North’s surprise shelling of a South Korea-held island sharply escalated tensions between them.

It was not immediately clear if the drills were being staged near the shelled island, Yeonpyeong, where the North’s barrage killed two marines and two civilians on Nov. 23 in one of the most serious episodes since the 1953 armistice that halted the Korean War. South Korean forces belatedly fired back, but the response was considered so feeble that it led to a shakeup in the Defense Ministry and toughened rules of military engagement with the North.

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The South Korean military said last week it would hold further drills in the area but had not indicated when. It is expected the new drills will last about a week.

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