North Korea Shelling South Korea

In what is being characterized as the worst incident in decades, North Korea has begun shelling a disputed South Korean island.

The South Korean military went to “crisis status,” and fighter planes were put on alert but did not take off. South Korean artillery units returned fire after the North’s shells struck South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island at 2:34 p.m., said Mr. Kwon, adding that the North also fired numerous rounds into the Yellow Sea. Television footage showed large plumes of black smoke spiraling from the island, and news reports said dozens of houses were on fire. The official North Korean news agency said in a brief statement Tuesday night that the South had started the fight when it “recklessly fired into our sea area.”

The United States and Japan have condemned the attack as a “deliberate provocation.” U.S. military forces in the region are at a heightened level of alert. Millions of North Koreans are facing starvation in the face of trade sanctions imposed by the United States and South Korea.