North and South Korean Navies Trade Warning Shots

North and South Korean Navies Trade Warning Shots

The warning shots come amid heightened tensions between the Koreas, due to both the South’s annual military exercises and the increasing pace of the North’s missile tests.

Things got tense on the Korean peninsula over the weekend, with North Korea and South Korea firing warning shots at each other across their sea border. 

According to the Associated Press, South Korea’s navy “broadcast warnings and fired warning shots to repel a North Korean merchant ship that it says violated the sea boundary early Monday.” South Korea claimed the firing violated a 2018 accord that, among other things, removed the loudspeakers the two nations had used to broadcast propaganda at each other. 

North Korea’s regime, meanwhile, says it responded by “firing 10 rounds of artillery warning shots.” 

“The KPA General Staff once again sends a grave warning to the enemies who made even naval intrusion in the wake of such provocations as the recent artillery firing and loudspeaker broadcasting on the ground front,” North Korea said, per the AP. 

“Pyongyang’s politics of blaming external threats and projecting confidence in military capabilities can motivate greater risk-taking,” Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, told the AP. “North Korean probing of South Korean perimeter defenses could lead to a serious exchange of fire and unintended escalation.”

South Korea is carrying out its annual Hoguk defense drills, which are scheduled to wrap up later this week. 

The exchange came as North Korea has been firing missiles at a nearly regular pace for most of the year, leading to speculation that the Kim regime could launch a nuclear test, possibly before the midterm elections in the United States. In fact, South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol is on “twenty-four-hour standby” for the possibility of a nuclear test by the North Koreans, Yonhap reported last week. 

"As North Korea's provocations have become more frequent, we're putting all of our effort into maintaining a readiness posture with a sense of alertness," an official associated with the president told Yonhap last week. “It's a 24-hour readiness regime.”

"The forces will conduct real-world day and night maneuvers simulated to counter North Korea's nuclear, missile, and other various threats so that they can master wartime and peacetime mission performance capabilities and enhance interoperability with some U.S. forces,” South Korea’s Defense Ministry said last week, as reported by Reuters. 

Jeffrey Lewis,  a nuclear arms control expert at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, said in a recent New York Times op-ed that perhaps the United States and its allies should accept North Korea as a nuclear power. 

“It’s time for the United States to face reality,” Lewis wrote. “Efforts to encourage Mr. Kim to abandon his weapons have not only failed, but he is as clear as ever about using them to protect his country. Washington needs to contemplate the unthinkable: accepting that North Korea is a nuclear state.”

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

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