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South Korea fires warning shots after North Korean soldiers briefly cross the border



South Korea fires warning shots after North Korean soldiers briefly cross the border

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Seoul’s military said Tuesday it had fired warning shots after North Korean soldiers briefly crossed the border this week, with tensions high over Pyongyang’s waste-carrying balloons and loudspeaker propaganda campaigns in Seoul.

“Some North Korean soldiers working inside the DMZ on the central front briefly crossed the Military Demarcation Line,” the JCS said in a statement, referring to the Line of Control in the heavily fortified border between the two Koreas.

“After our military issued warning broadcasts and warning shots, they withdrew northward,” the report said, adding that the incident occurred on June 9.

“Apart from the immediate withdrawal of the North Korean soldiers after our warning shots, no unusual movements were observed,” the JCS said, adding that the military was closely monitoring troops near the border.

Tensions between the two Koreas — which are still technically at war since the 1950-1953 conflict ended in an armistice rather than a peace treaty — are at one of their lowest points in years.

In recent weeks, North Korea has sent hundreds of balloons laden with trash such as cigarette butts and toilet paper to the South, in retaliation for balloons carrying anti-Pyongyang propaganda sent to the North by activists.

The South Korean government this month completely suspended a 2018 tension-easing military deal and resumed loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts along the border in response to the garbage balloons, which angered the North and warned that Seoul was creating “a new crisis.”

South Korea’s military said Monday it had discovered signs the North was installing its own speakers.

North Korea had used loudspeakers along the border since the 1960s, typically broadcasting praise for the Kim family, but suspended their use in 2018 as ties warmed.

Experts have warned that the decision to jettison the 2018 deal and restart loudspeaker broadcasts could have serious consequences.

Previous tit-for-tat propaganda actions have had real consequences for inter-Korean relations.

In 2020, blaming anti-North leaflets, Pyongyang unilaterally cut all official military and political communications links with the South and blew up an inter-Korean liaison office on its side of the border.

The North has also previously threatened artillery attacks on the loudspeaker units.

In 2018, during a period of improved inter-Korean relations, the leaders of the two Koreas agreed to “completely cease all hostile acts”, including a halt to the leaflets.

South Korea’s parliament passed a law in 2020 criminalizing sending leaflets to the North, but activists did not stop, and the law was rejected by the Constitutional Court last year as an unnecessary restriction on freedom of expression.

The 2018 pact was a signature achievement by former President Moon Jae-in, who met repeatedly with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in an effort to improve ties.

By canceling the deal, South Korea can also resume firing exercises along the border.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)