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A beach fortified with "dragon’s teeth” on Yeonpyeong. Across the water, North Korean islands lie on the other side of the Northern Limit Line.

A beach fortified with "dragon’s teeth” on Yeonpyeong. Across the water, North Korean islands lie on the other side of the Northern Limit Line.

Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

Fear Is Mounting on an Island at the Edge of North Korea

On the sleepy island of Yeonpyeong, the threat of conflict is constant. A major clash between the Koreas could draw in the U.S. and China.

It’s troublesome when Chinese trawlers show up in the most dangerous waters off the Korean Peninsula. It’s even more alarming when they’re gone.

“It’s a bad omen,” said Choi Ohk-sun, a 65-year-old resident on the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong. The last time that happened was a decade ago, when North Korean artillery rained down on the island, destroying homes a few minutes’ walk from where Choi was picking mulberries late last month.