DEVELOPING: North Korea Threatens New Attacks - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

DEVELOPING: North Korea Threatens New Attacks

Seoul, South Korea (CNN) -- South Korean Defense Minister Kim Tae-young resigned Thursday, according to the South Korean presidency, two days after North Korea shelling left four South Koreans dead.

"The president has just accepted the defense minister's resignation," according to a spokesman for the Presidential Blue House.

Kim, a former general, came under heavy criticism after the March sinking of the South Korean war ship Cheonan and again after North Korea struck the South's Yeonpyeong Island on Tuesday.

North Korea has been blamed by the South and other nations for the Cheonan incident, in which 46 sailors were killed, but has denied responsibility. North Korea has blamed South Korea and the United States for the Yeonpyeong incident, in which two South Korean marines and two civilians were killed and 15 others injured.

South Korean lawmakers from both parties alleged that South Korean forces were unprepared for the North Korean attacks, and some have insisted that South Korean aircraft should have responded to the Yeonpyeong incident immediately. Lawmakers demanded Kim's resignation earlier Thursday.

Kim actually submitted his resignation May 1, after the Cheonan incident, said the Blue House spokesman, but it was not accepted until Thursday because of the Cheonan aftermath and other military-related issues. The Cheonan sinking sparked a public uproar, with many stating that it should not have been possible for North Korea to have damaged South Korea's military, which is much more high-tech.

President Lee also drew criticism for his first statements after the Yeonpyeong artillery bombardment, in which he asked for a stern response but added that de-escalatory measures also had to be taken. Later that same day, Lee spoke to the military and urged heavy retaliation.

It was unclear who advised Lee on his first message, but on Wednesday, speaking to a lawmakers' committee, Kim said the president's first instruction was to stop the fire from spreading.

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