Despite global fears of a violent confrontation, South Korea launched fighter jets and fired live artillery in a military exercise close to the North Korea border. But the two-hour operation ended without incident, and Pyongyang officials promised not to retaliate, reversing earlier threats of a "deadly" response. Residents of Yeonpyeong and other "front-line" islands had been ordered to move into air-raid shelters for the operation, but many fled the island attacked last month by North Korea.
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, an unofficial envoy who has met with officials in North Korea, called the situation earlier today "very, very tense." The situation has once again underscored a major divide in the UN Security Council, with China and Russia calling on South Korea to halt the operation, while US officials supported the nation's right to be prepared in the face of "ongoing provocations." After the exercise, China urged both sides to avoid armed confrontation, reports the BBC. "Whatever the differences and disputes relevant parties may have, they can only be addressed through dialogue and negotiation rather than by conflict or war," said a foreign ministry official.