On Saturday, the South Korean military fired warning shots and issued warnings to expel a North Korean patrol boat that crossed the Northern Limit Line (NLL), the de facto sea boundary. The incursion came a day after North Korea’s missile tests and further raised tensions in the region. The Joint Chiefs of Staff of South Korea reported that the North Korean vessel crossed the maritime border around 11 am, prompting the warning shots and broadcasts. The JCS maintained that the South Korean military was monitoring the enemy’s movements in preparation for potential provocations regarding NLL violations by North Korean patrol boats.
The incident took place amid increased tensions over North Korea’s recent military activities, including the test of a new solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile on Friday. Experts claim that the missile could facilitate missile launches without warning. Pyongyang has disputed the NLL, arguing that it should be placed further south. In October, both Koreas exchanged warning shots in the western waters, accusing each other of violating the sea border in a region where such confrontations have frequently occurred.
Pyongyang has threatened military action due to the annual springtime exercises carried out by South Korea and the US since March, calling them a rehearsal for nuclear war. As a response to these threats, South Korea’s air force has announced that it will conduct joint drills with the US Air Force and Marines from Monday until April 28. The exercise involves 110 aircraft, including South Korea’s F-35 and F-15 fighters and American F-16 jets and KC-135 aerial refuelling tankers, as well as 1,400 troops from both sides, according to the statement.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un recently ordered to strengthen war deterrence to counter what the country called aggressive moves by the United States and South Korea. However, Seoul and Washington claim that their drills are defensive in nature and intended to deter North Korea.
During the operation on Saturday, a South Korean patrol ship and a Chinese fishing vessel had a minor collision due to bad visibility, but no safety issues arose. Only slight injuries were sustained by the South Korean crew. The situation is still tense, and the incident has raised concerns about the stability of the Korean Peninsula. The international community is closely monitoring the situation, and further developments will be watched with great interest.