North Korea fired hundreds of artillery rounds along its sea boundary with neighboring South Korea in violation of a 2018 military agreement, Seoul’s defense ministry said.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said North Korea fired 200 rounds in the waters north of their disputed western sea boundary. South Korea suffered no damages, it said.
Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesperson Lee Sung Joon said the North’s artillery firing was “an act of provocation that threatens peace and heightens tensions on the Korean Peninsula.” South Korea also urged North Korea to stop further provocations.
The North’s front-line maritime firing exercise was the first of its kind in about a year, escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
The last time South Korea accused North Korea of violating the deal on the buffer zones was in December 2022, when the North conducted firing drills off the Korean Peninsula’s east coast.
The 2018 agreement created no-fly and buffer zones along their border, in which the two Koreas agreed to halt live-fire exercises and aerial surveillance.
Lee said South Korea’s military will respond to the North’s artillery firing as it continuously monitors North Korean moves, in close coordination with the United States.
While the Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesperson did not provide specifics on what corresponding step South Korea would take, residents of South Korea’s front-line island of Yeonpyeong said military officials have asked them to evacuate because it plans to launch maritime firing drills.
The Koreas’ western sea boundary played host to bloody naval clashes in 1999, 2002 and 2009. In 2010, there was another clash that left 46 South Korean sailors dead.
Earlier Friday, North Korea’s state media said Kim ordered authorities to increase production of vehicles capable of launching missiles ahead of a potential military showdown with its enemies.
Kim has also ordered Northern officials to use every weapon at its disposal — including nuclear weapons — in a potential armed conflict with South Korea and the U.S.
These aggressive actions from the North come ahead of the South’s parliamentary elections in April and the United States presidential election in November.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.