Korea of North shot on wednesday at least 23 missilesincluding one very close to the territorial waters of Korea of Southwhose president Yoon Suk-yeol he denounced it as “a de facto territorial invasion.”
The South Korean military initially reported that Pyongyang had shot 10 missilesand subsequently gradually unveiled the other 13 pitches.
The North also made a hundred artillery shots to a maritime border area, in what experts consider to be part of an “aggressive and threatening” response by Pyongyang to the military exercises carried out by the United States and Korea of South.
This flurry of gunfire prompted the South Korean authorities to launch a unusual air raid alert on the island of Ulleungdo (this) and to ask its inhabitants to take refuge in underground bunkers.
According to the South Korean military, one of the projectiles launched by Pyongyang crossed the northern boundary linethe disputed maritime border between the two countries, and fell near the territorial waters of the South.
As they indicated, it is “the first time since the peninsula was divided”, at the end of the Korean war in 1953, that a North Korean missile falls so close to the South’s territorial waters.
In a statement, the South Korean president assured that this “constitutes a de facto territorial invasion with a missile that crossed the northern boundary line for the first time since the division” of the peninsula in 1953.
The army said the closest missile fell into the sea just 57 kilometers east of the US mainland. Korea of Southand described this release as “highly unusual and intolerable.”
In response to these actions, the South Korean army fired from fighters F-15 Y F-16 three air-to-surface precision missiles “towards open sea waters”, near the point where the controversial North Korean projectile landed.
It is the first time that Seoul has sent such projectiles into waters belonging to its neighbor.
The South Korean military stated that Pyongyang shot in total seven short-range ballistic missiles and others 16 missilesincluded six ground-air.
The South Korean president called a meeting of his National Security Council to analyze the shot, and ordered a “quick and severe response” to these “provocations.”
The country’s authorities also canceled air routes over the Sea of Japan, to the east of the peninsula, and recommended local airlines to divert to “guarantee passenger safety on routes to the United States and Japan.”
Although the figures vary according to the type of classification, the North Korean launch is number 36 so far this year (a record figure), according to the database of the American NGO Nuclear Threat Initiative.
These shots occur in the middle of the largest joint military exercises ever made by Korea of South Y USAbaptized “Storm Watcher”involving hundreds of warplanes from both sides.
Pak Jong Chona senior officer of Korea of Northsaid these exercises were aggressive and provocative, according to a report in state media on Wednesday.
Pak said that the name of the maneuvers is reminiscent of the operation Desert Stormthe US offensive on Iraq in 1990-1991 in response to the invasion of Kuwait.
“Yes USA Y Korea of South intend to use armed forces against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea without fear, the special means of the DPRK armed forces will deploy their strategic mission without delay,” he said.
“USA Y Korea of South they will face a terrible situation and pay the most horrible price in history,” he added.
At the same time, Russia called the parties to “the calm” and asked them to avoid “taking measures that could cause an increase in tensions.”
Zhao Lijiangspokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chinasaid that China was following the situation “closely” and urged the parties to dialogue.
“It is in the common interest of the region to maintain peace and stability on the peninsula and resolve each other’s concerns in a balanced manner through dialogue and consultation,” he said. “We hope that all parties involved will stay on the path of political settlement of the Korean Peninsula issue, meet halfway, and prevent the situation from escalating in turn.”
According to analyst Cheong Seong-chang of the Sejong Institutethese shots are the “most aggressive and threatening armed demonstration against the South since 2010″.
In March of that year, a North Korean submarine torpedoed a South Korean ship, killing 46 crew members, 16 of whom were doing their mandatory military service. In November of that same year, Pyongyang bombed a South Korean border island, killing two young sailors.
The isolated communist country, endowed with nuclear capability, has carried out a record series of weapons tests this year and, according to Seoul and Washington, prepare a new nuclear testwhich would be the first since 2017.
For their part, the United States and South Korea intensified their military maneuvers in the area, to which Japan sometimes joins. The current air exercises were preceded by 12 days of amphibious naval exercises.
(With information from AFP and EFE)