North Korea fires artillery near border
North Korea has fired hundreds of artillery rounds into the sea near an established buffer zone with the South, calling the move a “grave warning” to Seoul after it launched major military exercises set to continue through the week.
The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said Pyongyang launched around 100 shells off its west coast and another 150 from the east on Tuesday, noting that they landed outside of its territorial waters, but within a maritime boundary established in 2018 to avoid incidents between the two sides.
“We strongly urge North Korea to immediately halt its actions,” the military said in a statement early on Wednesday, adding “North Korea’s continued provocations are actions that undermine peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and the international community.”
The shelling marked the second time North Korea fired into the buffer zone in the last week, with the DPRK unleashing a similar show of force last Friday, when it launched some 170 artillery rounds, as well as a short-range ballistic missile, and scrambled several warplanes.
In comments later carried by the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), an unnamed military official said the demonstration was intended to send a message to Seoul.
“In order to send a grave warning once again, it made sure that [Korean People’s Army] units on the east and west fronts conducted a threatening, warning fire toward the east and west seas in the night of Oct. 18, as a powerful military countermeasure,” the official said, going on to condemn South Korea’s “war drill against the North.”
Seoul kicked off its annual ‘Hoguk’ military exercise on Monday, which officials said is designed to improve the country’s ability to repel North Korean missile threats. The drill will end on Saturday, and follows a flurry of military activity by South Korea in recent weeks, which included joint operations with the US and Japan.
Those exercises come amid significant escalations on the Korean Peninsula, with the DPRK carrying out a record number of missile tests in 2022 after several years of relative quiet. In addition to weapons trials, the North recently announced that it had carried out a drill simulating the loading of tactical nuclear warheads into a silo hidden below a reservoir, part of a series of exercises launched in September to ensure the readiness of its nuclear forces.