In a defiant act, North Korea fired more than 200 projectiles into the waters off its western coast, once again showing his determination and military power. An extremely provocative action that occurred after the cancellation of an inter-Korean military agreement last November. Following the issuance of an emergency evacuation order for civilians on the South Korean border islands of Yeonpyeong and Baengnyeong, The South Korean military responded to this escalation by carrying out live-fire military exercises. However, no damage to South Korean civilians or soldiers, or loss of life, was reported.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff reported the detection of artillery fire coming from Capes Jangsan and Deungsan, located in the coastal areas of southwestern North Korea, between 9:00 and 11:00 local time. The projectiles hit the maritime security zone north of the Northern Limit Line, the de facto maritime border in the Yellow Sea. This area, established in an inter-Korean military agreement signed on September 19, 2018 to reduce border tensions, prohibits artillery fire and naval exercises. However, last November, Pyongyang decided unilaterally to annul said agreement, after Seoul partially suspended it in protest at the “successful” launch of a North Korean military spy satellite. This unexpected breakup has further fueled tensions in the region, leaving neighbors in a delicate balance and increasing the risk of a potentially devastating conflict.
The South Korean military described the action as a “provocative” act and warned of corresponding measures under close cooperation with the United States, ensuring that “the full responsibility for these situations that escalate the crisis lies with North Korea and we strongly call for its immediate arrest,” lamented JCS spokesperson, Colonel Lee Sung-jun. .
In the afternoon, South Korean Marine Corps units on Baengnyeong and Yeonpyeong islands conducted live-fire exercises, using K9 self-propelled howitzers and other assets, such as K1E1 tanks, against simulated targets in waters south of the Northern Limit Line, according to defense officials. Thus, Seoul did not sit idly by and fired about 400 rounds in the maritime buffer zone to demonstrate its defense capabilities, double the amount fired by the North.
That same day, the Korean People’s Army (KPA), the official name of the North Korean Army, issued a statement stating that the detachments in charge of defending the southwest coast had fired 192 projectiles against five districts as part of a live-fire drill. The Korean Central News Agency published a statement in this regard that described as a “far-fetched claim” the fact that the country has launched projectiles against the buffer zone near the islands of Yeonpyeong and Baengnyeong. In addition, he pointed out that Friday’s drill was “a kind of natural countermeasure” against recent South Korean artillery fire.
The South Korean Navy announced on Thursday that together with Washington they celebrated a live fire exercise near the border with the North, with the aim of strengthening their combined operational capabilities against their military threats. But, on Friday, Pyongyang warned against this type of “provocations under the pretext of shoring up its preparedness,” stating that its army will demonstrate “a harsh reaction at an unprecedented level.”
The South Korean spy agency indicated a month ago that it is highly probable that new military provocations or cyber attacks occur at the beginning of 2024on the eve of the South Korean parliamentary elections in April and the US presidential elections in November.
The fateful 2010
History repeats itself with an ominous air on the Korean peninsula. The provocative shots and the increasing tension evoke to the fateful year 2010. At that time, the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong became the scene of a devastating confrontation as The North Korean army fired around 170 projectiles towards the island, causing the death of several soldiers and civilians. The attack provoked a strong reaction from the South, which responded with artillery fire and deployed F-16 fighters in the area. The incident sparked an escalation of tensions with threats of retaliation and increased militarization in the region.
While current circumstances have not reached the level of direct confrontation seen in 2010, gunfire and military exercises on the maritime border are cause for concern. The international community is attentive to developments and strives to maintain stability in the region
Meanwhile, state media on Friday published images of Kim and his daughter visiting a factory that produces mobile launchers for intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), underscoring the need to strengthen the country’s nuclear deterrent for a “military confrontation” with the enemy. During the inspection, Kim ordered measures to expand the production capacity of large transporter erector launchers (TEL), stressing that the factory plays an important role in strengthening the country’s defense capabilities, according to the KCNA news agency, which He did not specify the date of the inspection.
In a key meeting of the party at the end of the year, the leader called for a reinforcement of war preparation for deter “unprecedented” acts of Washington-led clashes and laid out plans to launch three military spy satellites and bolster the nation’s nuclear arsenal in 2024.