South and North Korea trade warning shots as tensions continue

by Jacob Fuller

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News


Sunday, following weeks of North Korea repeatedly firing ballistic missiles as a show of force, South Korea and its communist counterpart exchanged warning shots over contested sea boundary.

As reported by Reuters, the two nations differ in their account but agree that the dispute arose over the Northern Limit Line, a jagged series of plot points that effectively divides the territorial waters of South and North Korea.

The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff stated Monday that one of the nation’s ships had broadcast warnings to and fired warning shots at a North Korean merchant vessel that crossed the Northern Limit.

North Korea, through its state media, accused the South Korea navy of having crossed the same line.

“We ordered initial countermeasures to strongly expel the enemy warship,” Reuters quoted a spokesperson for the General Staff of the North’s Korean People’s Army as having said.

ABC News, citing analyst Cheong Seong-Chang of the private Sejong Institute in South Korea, reports that the reality is likely that North Korea instigated the incident by intentionally having its merchant vessel cross into South Korean waters.

Just why North Korea is choosing to press the issue with South Korea at this time remains unclear.

“We are preparing for all contingencies in close coordination with our partners and allies around the world,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said during a Monday briefing. He later added, “We’re prepared to make both short and longer-term adjustments to our military posture as appropriate in responding to [North Korean] provocation and, as necessary, to strengthen both defense and deterrence to protect our allies in the region.”

North Korea has been increasingly willing to prod South Korea in recent weeks. Visits to South Korea by U.S. diplomats, joint military operations between the U.S. and South Korean, and almost certain needling from China have North Korea in a combative mood.

On its best day, the international pariah is a brutal dictatorship that maintains its grasp over its own people at least partially by pretending to be a far more powerful entity than it truly is.

Ordinarily, this takes the form of over-the-top tough talk and bluster, but as more weapons are fired ⁠— even in warning ⁠— the chance of escalation grows.

“The South Korean military needs to make thorough preparations to prevent fresh skirmishes from happening on the West Sea and prevent them from causing the worst-case scenario,” Cheong told ABC.

Price said it was the position of the United States that a peaceful resolution could be found.

“We have made consistently clear that we harbor no hostile intent towards [North Korea],” Price said. “We remain open to dialogue. We remain open to diplomacy. We recognize that diplomacy and dialogue remains the most effective path by which to achieve our overarching goal, and that’s the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. At the same time, our commitment to the security of our personnel in the region, of our treaty allies, is ironclad, it is sacrosanct, and we’ll discuss that in forthcoming engagements.”