South Korean taxi driver Lee Jin-kyu still recalls his terror the moment he witnessed North Korean commandos coming ashore from a shipwrecked surveillance submarine under the cover of darkness, on a balmy night in September 1996.
Looking out onto the water from the roadside near the city of Gangneung, on South Korea’s east coast, Mr Lee felt a chill of dread when he saw the strange silhouette of what looked like a “dolphin” the size of a bus that had run aground on rocks. “I knew I had to sound the alarm,” he said.
The ensuing 49-day manhunt for the 26 special forces and submarine officers on board left not only 24 North Koreans, and 16 southerners dead, but it nearly brought the two Koreas to the brink of armed conflict.
Now, 22 years later, Mr Lee, 58, hopes his quiet hometown, nestled between the eastern shore and snowcapped mountains, and co-hosting the Winter Olympics just 50 miles from...