Tensions are rising again between North and South Korea following joint US and South Korean military exercises.
The US military annually holds such drills with its South Korean allies, always to the discontent of North Korea. Pyongyang often responds with some military action of its own, usually several missile tests as they have done this time. While tensions are usually heightened in light of such acts by both sides of the Korean peninsula, this situation was peculiar as it followed a major peace offering by the South as well as the fact that North Korea’s drills were not contained solely to it’s own waters.
An Olive Branch From The South
Last week at a UN meeting, President Park of South Korea made a speech announcing her nation’s willingness to extend various forms of aid to its northern neighbor in exchange for the decommissioning of its nuclear program. President Park offered up economic and social ways in which she would like the two Koreas to work together if the North would comply with the UN’s demands.
However in face of the UN’s claims against their missile and nuclear activity coupled with new military exercises being held by the US and South Korean militaries, North Korea announced it would be doing missile launch drills into its western sea along is disputed maritime border with the South.
A Militant Response
On Monday morning North Korea carried out some of the missile and artillery launches, firing about 500 rounds. However around 100 of the rounds crossed the North-South maritime border, prompting an immediate response from the South Korean military.
The Southern forces along the border returned approximately 300 rounds of fire into the Northern sea, as well as called several military planes into the region in case the situation escalated further.
The South Korean government stated it had warned the North that it would immediately respond if any fire crossed the official UN maritime border between the two nations. China, who is North Korea’s largest trading partner, also made a statement calling to cease action and reduce tension between its two southern neighbors.
More Military Action To Come?
Although tensions have certainly increased between the Korean nations it is unlikely that the conflict will move past a rhetorical stage. They repeatedly engage in an exchange of threats, as well as peace offerings from the south, and although the North does engage in military activity it is rarely in a direct offense against its southern neighbor. However, things always have a certain degree of uncertainty when it comes to North Korea, though with recent events the idea of a peace that South Korean President Park spoke of to the UN seems even less likely. The two Koreas will likely return to a more quiet opposition following the finish of the military drills in the South.