North Korean Army Attempts Border Crossing: South Korea Fires Warning Shots

The South Korean military fired a series of warning shots at about 20 North Korean soldiers who violated the inter-Korean border

by Sededin Dedovic
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North Korean Army Attempts Border Crossing: South Korea Fires Warning Shots
© Chung Sung-Jun / getty Images


The South Korean military fired a series of warning shots at about 20 North Korean soldiers who crossed the inter-Korean border, likely by mistake, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) in Seoul said today. According to the statement, around 12:30 p.m.

local time on Sunday, about 20 North Korean soldiers briefly crossed the demarcation line in the demilitarized zone in the central part of the border and then returned to the North Korean side after the South Korean military broadcast warning messages and fired a series of shots, reports Yonhap.

The South Korean military believes that the North Korean soldiers were carrying out a mission within the demilitarized zone and crossed the border "unintentionally." South Korean military spokesperson Lee Sung-jung stated that the North Korean soldiers immediately returned to their side after the warning shots and that Seoul believes they did not intend to attack South Korean territory.

The incident occurred just hours before South Korea resumed broadcasting propaganda over loudspeakers at the border against the Pyongyang authorities for the first time in six years, in response to North Korea's campaign of sending balloons with trash across the border.

It is estimated that Pyongyang has sent more than 1,600 such balloons since May 28 in response to leaflets against North Korean authorities sent by South Korean activists. The demilitarized zone between the two Koreas is one of the most heavily guarded areas in the world, with barbed wire fences and significant military presence on both sides, reports Yonhap.

“Introduction to a dangerous situation”

Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of leader Kim Jong Un, said that broadcasting risks triggering a “crisis of conflict”. “This is an introduction to a very dangerous situation,” she said in a statement to state media.

North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un (L), sister Kim Yo Jong (R) attend the Inter-Korean Summit at the Peace House on April 27, 2018 © Pool / Getty Images

North Korea is extremely sensitive to Seoul's loudspeaker broadcasts, fearing that such messages could demoralize troops and frontline residents and ultimately weaken Kim Jong Un's rule, analysts say.

The last time South Korea resumed broadcasts after a long hiatus, in 2015, North Korea fired artillery shells across the border, prompting South Korea to return fire. There were no reports of casualties. The JCS said there were no unusual activities after the warning shots were fired on Sunday and after the soldiers returned to their side of the border.

"Balloon War"

North Korea sent a new wave of trash-filled balloons towards its southern neighbor today, and Kim Jong Un's sister warned of further responses if the South continues its "psychological war." Seoul previously harshly criticized the balloons as dangerous, and the north's retaliation is due to South Korea broadcasting propaganda against the north via loudspeakers in border areas and sending propaganda leaflets across the border.

The South warns the north to stop sending balloons carrying trash. In recent weeks, the north has sent more than a thousand trash-filled balloons across the border in response to the long-standing practice of South Korean activist groups sending balloons with anti-North Korea leaflets in the opposite direction.

Activists from South Korea have previously launched balloons carrying, among other things, cash, banned media content, and even South Korean snacks prohibited in the north.

2024 is a year with never greater tensions

We remind that late last year, North Korea's dictatorial president Kim Jong Un gave a fiery speech, declaring South Korea an enemy country with which his state is at war.

Just days after Kim Jong Un's speech, on January 5 this year, North Korea fired more than 200 artillery shells from its western coast near the South Korean islands of Baengnyeong and Yeonpyeong, according to South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

The shells fell north of the Northern Limit Line, a disputed border set by the United Nations at the end of the Korean War in 1953, and no one was injured in the attack, added the JCS, calling the incident "a provocative act that threatens peace and increases tensions on the Korean Peninsula." In response, the South Korean military said it would conduct its own naval firing exercise on Friday afternoon, and residents of Yeonpyeong were ordered to evacuate to nearby shelters and refrain from outdoor activities.

Relations then began to sharply deteriorate, and in the last month, there has been a real "balloon war" which our portal has been reporting on. A few days ago, on June 3, South Korea announced its withdrawal from the military agreement signed with North Korea in 2018 to ease tensions, the Presidential Office in Seoul said last Monday, reacting to the trash-filled balloons sent by Pyongyang across the border into South Korea.

The suspension of the agreement will allow South Korea to conduct military exercises near the border and take "appropriate and urgent measures" in response to North Korea's provocations, the Council said in a statement. It was not specified what those measures might be.

The attempted border crossing by North Korean soldiers and the armed response from their southern neighbors is the culmination of current tensions and comes at a very unstable time when wars are raging around the world.

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