In order to rebuff a North Korean merchant ship that it claims crossed the maritime boundary, the South Korean navy issued a warning and fired warning shots. According to North Korea’s military, it sent a warning to South Korea by launching 10 rounds of artillery shells in retaliation. It claimed that a South Korean naval ship had violated North Korean territorial seas while pretending to pursue an unnamed ship.
There were no reports of clashes between the Koreas. The poorly marked sea boundary off the Korean Peninsula is a source of long-running animosities. It’s been a scene of several bloody inter-Korean naval skirmishes and violence in recent years. In recent weeks, North Korea has carried out a string of weapons tests.
The missile launches primarily served as a form of protest against South Korea-U.S. joint exercises close to the Korean Peninsula. North Korea said that the purpose of its artillery shooting exercises was to retaliate against comparable South Korean artillery exercises. In recent years, Washington and Seoul have reduced or stopped their routine drills. However, following the election of a new South Korean president in May, they have been renewing or increasing those trainings.
The North says South Korea conducted artillery tests and propaganda broadcasts near their land border. South Korea has already confirmed it performed artillery firings last week as part of its regular military exercises. It didn’t immediately respond to the North’s claim on the loudspeaker broadcasts. ‘The KPA General Staff once again sends a grave warning to the enemies who made even naval intrusion in the wake of such provocations,’ the North says.
In 2018, the Koreas dismantled huge loudspeakers used to blare Cold War-style propaganda across their border. If South Korea had restarted its propaganda broadcasts, that could trigger a strong North Korean response. Most of North Korea’s 26 million people have no official access to foreign TV and radio programs. The South Korean military is under annual field exercises set to end this Friday.
The exercises are intended to evaluate the two nations’ capacity for combined operations and raise military preparedness. According to some observers, North Korea’s latest missile tests indicate that its leader Kim Jong Un has no plans to restart the country’s stalled nuclear negotiations with the United States any time soon. Around 240 jets, including F-35 fighters flown by both countries, are participating in the exercises.