Only hours after Kim Jong Un made his first public appearance after false rumors of his demise, North Korea reportedly fired several shots against its southern neighbor, prompting South Korea to return fire.
According to CNN, the shots were fired at the wall of a South Korean guard post in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). No South Korean soldiers were injured, and it appears that there was no damage sustained from the artillery.
In response to the attack, the South Korean military broadcast a verbal warning and then returned fire two times. The conflict immediately deescalated following South Korea’s actions.
Though rare, this is not the first time there has been discord in the DMZ. In 2017, a North Korean soldier defected to the South at the Joint Security Area, running across the border while under fire.
North Korea had also issued gunfire back in 2014 when a North Korean defection society tried to communicate with the communist nation by releasing a number of balloons containing leaflets that condemned Kim’s regime.
Though matters seem calm at present, South Korea is still trying to “grasp the detailed situation,” (per the Daily Mail).
“We are taking actions via inter-Korean communication lines to grasp the detailed situation and to prevent any further incidents,” read a statement from the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.
A briefing held later on Sunday suggested that the artillery was likely not a planned attack, citing the fact that visibility was low due to fog.
“In absence of vision [for the target] and in the fog, would there be an accurate provocation?” an official said.
However, Asian Institute for Policy Studies Vice President Choi Kang suggested that the attack could be a way for Kim to show strength after his rumored health problems.
“Yesterday, Kim was trying to show he is perfectly healthy, and today, Kim is trying to mute all kinds of speculation that he may not have full control over the military,” Choi said.
“Rather than going all the way by firing missiles and supervising a missile launch, Kim could be reminding us, ‘yes I’m healthy and I’m still in power,'” he concluded.
The reports of gunfire come after the supreme leader made his first public appearance in nearly three weeks, during which time multiple reports suggested that he was seriously ill or even dead.
Though Kim took a tour of a factory on Friday and appeared to be in good spirits, marks on his wrists seemed to suggest that he had undergone some form of a surgical procedure, as was previously reported by The Inquisitr.