South Korea fired warning shots at a North Korean sea vessel that was straying past its border on Saturday. The shelling has raised tensions between the two countries in the wake of an oncoming reunion for families separated by the North-South war.
The incident occurred as South Korea’s navy was enforcing a crackdown on Chinese fishing vessels illegally operating in their waters on Saturday when they spotted the North Korean ship. The South’s navy fired five warning shots at the patrol vessel causing it turned around and head back to its border. It did not return fire.
In a statement by South Korea’s defense ministry, no exchange of fire was officially reported.
However, North Korean officials called the event the exact opposite. According to a statement from Pyongyang on Sunday, the incident amounted to a “serious military provocation”. The officials even went ahead to accuse Seoul officials of reneging on an agreement to foster ties between the two states.
The Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said in a statement, “The shelling that was committed in broad daylight was a deliberate provocation to spark off a military conflict…and again escalate the tension on the Korean Peninsula,”
The statement further read, “The recent military provocation of the South Korean military gangsters was a dangerous act aimed to chill the hard-won atmosphere of improving the relations and totally derail the process for implementing the North-South agreement.”
In August this year, both countries agreed to join hands to foster peace and diffuse military tensions. They also agreed to hold another reunion to unite countries separated by the Korean War.
The reunion began on October 20 and is currently underway, scheduled to end on October 26. It is the second to occur in five years and it has seen hundreds of relatives gather in the North’s Mount Kumgang resort to meet each other after years of separation stretching past six decades.
The incursion by the North Korean vessel into the South’s waters is not the first to occur. The Yellow Sea Border, drawn by the U.S.-led United Nations Forces after the Korean war has been the scene of bloody clashed between the two countries in 1999, 2002 and 2009.
North Korea’s continued violation of the South’s waters has been the reason for a lot of tension between the two countries. Though Pyongyang refuses to acknowledge its continued violation of Seoul’s waters, the international community has maintained the North is overreaching its waters and should respect the South’s borders.