Earlier today, North Korean soldiers approached the military border with South Korea. South Korean soldiers fired warning shots, but the North Koreans would not react, according to Reuters. The North Korean soldiers fired back upon the south, and the exchange of bullets went on for about ten minutes according to a South Korean Defense Official.
“There were no casualties or property damage.”
This incident was the latest in a series of confrontations in recent weeks between North and South Korea. The two countries are still technically at war, and tensions are always high around the border. This latest skirmish comes fresh on the heels of an urgent meeting between senior military officials on Wednesday who were looking for ways to decrease tension on the border.
Just over a week ago, on October 10t, North and South Korea also traded gunfire along the border, after South Korean activists floated balloons carrying anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets toward the North. No injuries were reported as a result of that heated exchange.
North Korea has repeatedly demanded South Korea ban activists from sending leaflets, the likes of which often urge North Korean citizens to rise up against leader Kim Jong Un. South Korea has always refused, saying activists are exercising freedom of speech. North Korea’s response is a warning that it will execute unspecified, stronger measures if the leafleting doesn’t stop, and South Korean activists in turn vowed to send more anti-Un leaflets into the air and across the border. One South Korean activist group said it will launch 50,000 leaflets on October 25, according to ABC news.
The aftermath of World War II left Korea partitioned along the 38th parallel, with the north under Soviet occupation and the south under U.S. occupation supported by other allied states. Consequently, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, a Soviet-style socialist republic, was established in the north while the Republic of Korea, a Western-style regime, was established in the South. The Korean War broke out when Soviet-backed North Korea invaded South Korea, though neither side gained much territory as a result. The Korean Peninsula remains divided, the Korean Demilitarized Zone being the de facto border between the two states.
The Korean Peninsula remains in a technical state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea to help deter potential aggression from North Korea.
[Image via journeylism]