Tags: North Korea | South Korea | Tension | Border | Unrest

North, South Korea Trade Fire Along Border as Tensions Worsen

Image: North, South Korea Trade Fire Along Border as Tensions Worsen
A man locks a shutter of his shop after an evacuation order is issued to the residents and visitors at the Imjingak Pavilion near the border village of Panmunjom, which has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War. (Kim Seung-doo/Yonhap via AP)

Thursday, 20 Aug 2015 07:49 AM

North and South Korea exchanged fire across the demilitarized zone between the two countries in one of the worst incidents since 2010, sparking fears that hostilities will worsen.

The incident started when North Korea fired a rocket at a South Korean border area, prompting Seoul's forces to reply with an artillery barrage. It was unclear whether there were any casualties.

Tensions have flared in recent weeks across the so-called DMZ that bisects the Korean peninsula. Two South Korean soldiers were maimed on Aug. 4 by land mines that the Seoul government says were recently laid by North Korea. Pyongyang denied any role in the blasts.

Relations deteriorated further when South Korea started blaring propaganda at the North through loudspeakers along the DMZ. After today's exchange, North Korea threatened to "start a military action" unless South Korea stops all propaganda broadcasts and withdraws the loudspeakers within 48 hours.

"The ball is in North Korea's court now," Koh Yu Hwan, professor of North Korea studies at Dongguk University in Seoul, said by phone. "If North Korea decides to fire back, that means the conflict will broaden, something probably neither Korea wants."

More than 60 years after a civil war that ended in a stalemate, hundreds of thousands of troops are still dug in on both sides of the DMZ. More than 28,000 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea to protect against a possible invasion from North Korea.

Serious Exchange

Today's exchange was among the most serious since North Korea shelled a front-line island in the south in 2010, killing two marines and two civilians. Last year, their ships exchanged warning fire near a disputed Yellow Sea boundary.

South Korea's military remains on heightened alert after today's incident and is closely monitoring the situation, the Defense Ministry said in an e-mailed statement. The exchange began when North Korea fired a single rocket across the border, the ministry said. South Korean troops fired "dozens of shells" back, the statement said.

Today's events come days after the U.S. and South Korea began annual joint war games called Ulchi Freedom Guardian on Monday. The exercise, which North Korea calls a rehearsal for invasion, is scheduled to end Aug. 28. The U.S. and South Korea say the drills are defensive.

South Korea has signaled more provocations may come as a key North Korean national celebration approaches in October.

"The situation on the Korean peninsula will certainly become more unstable if North Korea fires a long-range rocket ahead of the Oct. 10 anniversary of the founding of its Workers' Party," Cheong Seong Chang, a senior analyst at the Sejong Institute near Seoul, said by text message.

North Korea has completed an upgrade of its main long-range rocket site in a sign it may be preparing for a launch, according to the 38 North website, which is run by Johns Hopkins University.

© Copyright 2017 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

   
1Like our page
2Share
GlobalTalk
North and South Korea exchanged fire across the demilitarized zone between the two countries in one of the worst incidents since 2010, sparking fears that hostilities will worsen.
North Korea, South Korea, Tension, Border, Unrest
474
2015-49-20
Thursday, 20 Aug 2015 07:49 AM
Newsmax Inc.
 
 

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

NEWSMAX.COM
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved