South Korea sent drones across the border into North Korea for the first time on Monday, an unprecedented tit-for-tat military operation since Kim Jong Un’s regime sent five unmanned aerial vehicles into its airspace.
The two sides exchanged drones, briefly blocking flights at the main airport near Seoul, as Kim called for a key political meeting to set security, economic and political policies for the coming year, the official Korean Central News Agency reported on Tuesday. He has been improving his atomic arsenal for the past year and has no interest in returning to nuclear disarmament talks that have stalled for three years.
Kim Jong Un’s regime sent five drones across the border on Monday, the first time he has done so in more than five years. The first crossed the border at 10:25 am and returned after flying for about 3 hours. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said four more were spotted Monday afternoon before disappearing from radar.
Yonhap News Agency stated that someone may have entered the Seoul area to take pictures of the presidential office. The South Korean military said it responded with fighter jets and military helicopters, and local media, including Yonhap News Agency, said about 100 rounds were fired at a North Korean drone hovering near the western coastal islands.
South Korea later deployed manned and unmanned reconnaissance assets to areas near the border and to North Korea to conduct reconnaissance and film military installations, JCS said in a statement. The move fits with South Korea’s strategy of responding to North Korean provocations with similar exercises over the past year.
Kim has found room to ratchet up tensions as the United States and its ally President Joe Biden focus on Russia’s war in Ukraine. The moves have raised the risk of the first major deadly conflict in years, such as North Korea’s artillery bombardment of the South Korean border island of Yeonpyeong in 2010.
Over the past few years, Kim Jong-un has been modernizing his missile stockpile, making them easier to hide, quicker to deploy and harder to shoot down. This year, he tested missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons on U.S. allies South Korea and Japan, and launched an intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the U.S. mainland. South Korea says it expects Kim Jong Un to conduct a nuclear bomb test in the near future.
North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile on Nov. 18 in the presence of Kim Jong Un’s daughter, marking her first official appearance in state media. The move marks another generation’s readiness to take over the Cold War’s last continuous family dynasty, which will rely on nuclear weapons for survival.
King used the year-end, multi-day political event to deliver a big speech at the end of the event. In his opening remarks, “he emphasized the need for a more exciting and confident struggle policy based on the precious fact that real progress has been achieved while overcoming all difficulties,” KCNA said.
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