South Korea Fires Warning Shots After North Korean Soldiers Cross Border Again Ahead Of Putin-Kim Summit

Published 29 days ago
By Forbes | Siladitya Ray
N. Korean, S. Korean military guard posts
Photo taken on Dec. 4, 2023, from Paju, a South Korean city near the border with the North, shows South (front, R) and North Korean (back) military guard posts. (Photo by Kyodo News via Getty Images)

TOPLINE

South Korean forces fired warning shots at North Korean soldiers who crossed the heavily guarded border zone separating the two countries Tuesday, the second time such an incident had happened in less than two weeks amid growing tensions between the two countries.

KEY FACTS

The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said around 20 to 30 North Korean soldiers “carrying work tools” crossed the military demarcation line that runs between the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), separating the two countries, Yonhap News Agency reported.

The incursion took place around 8.30 a.m. local time somewhere in the central section of the border.

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The South Korean military responded to the incursion by broadcasting warnings and firing warning shots at the North Koreans, who then returned to their side of the border.

There was no further confrontation between the two sides and South Korean military officials believe the incursion was likely accidental.

The joint chiefs said it suspects construction work is being carried out at the border to make it harder for prospective defectors to leave the country.

KEY BACKGROUND

A similar incident occurred last Sunday when 20 North Korean soldiers violated the border while working in the DMZ. It is unclear if the previous breach happened in the same location, but that was also described as taking place somewhere in the central section of the border. The previous incident was also resolved after South Korean troops fired warning shots.

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NEWS PEG

The border violations come at a time of heightened tensions between North and South Korea. Late last month, North Korea flew hundreds of balloons carrying trash and feces across the border into the South. Pyongyang said the trash balloons were in response to long-running efforts by South Korean activists and North Korean defectors to deliver propaganda material to their country with the use of balloons. The materials in question included leaflets criticizing the Kim Jong-un regime and USB thumb drives with South Korean media like K-pop songs and K-dramas. North Korea has continued flying hundreds more trash balloons across the border this month—angering South Korean officials. In response, Seoul has suspended a 2018 deal between the two countries to reduce border tensions.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin will make his first visit to North Korea in 24 years to attend a summit meeting with the country’s leader Kim Jong-Un. Before his arrival, Putin thanked North Korea and Kim for supporting his invasion of Ukraine and he vowed to work together with Pyongyang to overcome international sanctions. Putin’s visit will further raise Washington and Seoul’s concerns about growing military cooperation between Russia and North Korea.

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