The Associated Press has reported that warning shots were fired and aircraft was scrambled by South Korean military after North Korea drones entered the South Korean air space. This is the first time that the air space has been breached since 2017. Just days ago, North Korea was test-launching two ballistic missiles. Tensions have been escalated between the two countries.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said that South Korea’s military detected five drones from North Korea crossing the border. One of these drones traveled far out to the northern part of South Korea’s capital region. The Korean Joint Chiefs indicated that this region was roughly an hour drive away.
The military responded by firing warning shots and launching fighter jets and attack helicopters to shoot down the North Korean drones. The attack helicopters fired a combined 100 rounds but it wasn’t immediately known if the North Korean drones were shot down. There were no immediate reports of civilian damage on the ground in South Korea, according to the Defense Ministry.
One of the South Korean fighter jets scrambled on Monday, a KA-1 light attack plane, crashed during takeoff but its two pilots both ejected safely, defense officials said. They said they also requested civilian airports in and near Seoul to halt takeoffs temporarily.
South Korea also sent surveillance assets near and across the border to photograph key military facilities in North Korea as corresponding measures against the North Korean drone flights, the Joint Chiefs said. It didn’t elaborate, but some observers say that South Korea likely flew unmanned drones inside North Korean territory.
“Our military will thoroughly and resolutely respond to this kind of North Korean provocation,” Maj. Gen. Lee Seung-o, director of operations at the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters.
This is the first time that the air space has been breached since 2017. In 2017, a North Korean drone was found crashed in South Korea. The Associated Press reports that in 2014, several suspected North Korean drones equipped with Japanese-made cameras were found south of the border. North Korea claims to have around 300 drones.
The United States
Earlier in December, North Korea claimed to have performed significant tests needed to gain its first spy satellite and intercontinental ballistic missile that would be capable of reaching the United States and/or its territories. The Associated Press said that they were among high-tech weapons systems that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has vowed to introduce along with multi-warheads, underwater-launched nuclear missiles, nuclear-powered submarines and hypersonic missiles.
The Associated Press reports the following for this week:
North Korea is to hold a key ruling Workers’ Party conference this week to review past policies and set policy goals. Some experts say that during the meeting, North Korea will likely reaffirm its push to bolster nuclear and missile arsenals to cope with what it calls hostile U.S. policies, such as U.S.-led international sanctions and its regular military training with South Korea.
North Korea would eventually use its boosted nuclear capability as a bargaining chip to win international recognition as a legitimate nuclear state, the relaxing of international sanctions and other concessions, analysts say.
The Associated Press has contributed to this report. The featured photo is of a North Korean Drone. Photo is owned by the AP. Lee Jung-hoon/Yonhap via AP, File