There has been an exchange of artillery fire between North and South Korea today along the Demilitarized Zone. A North Korean rocket landed in western province of Gyeonggi, which resulted in a retaliatory barrage of a few dozen South Korean artillery shells. Currently, South Korea is on high alert for another North Korean attack.
The North Korean artillery rocket was said to have been aimed at a large loudspeaker set up on the southern side of DMZ as part of a psychological warfare operation that has recently been reinstated by the South Korean Government.
The latest round of saber rattling started after a land mine incident occurred on August 4th, where two South Korean soldiers patrolling their edge of the fenced DMZ were injured after being struck by improvised “box” mines. South Korea says the North had planted the mines clandestinely. As a result a loudspeaker propaganda campaign began in retaliation. After which, North Korea said they would blow up the South’s loudspeakers if they did not cease their anti-Pyongyang messages. Today’s artillery strike by the north appears to have been a follow-through to that threat.
North Korea’s threat machine has also been in high gear over large scale South Korean-led military exercises that include forces from the U.S., Denmark, France, Australia, Canada, Colombia, New Zealand and the UK which commenced Monday. Pyongyang has been threatening a military reprisal if these exercises occurred as planned, a common proclamation from the blustering North Korean state-ran media during the days leading up to major South Korean-led war games.
Once the exercises kicked off on Monday, North Korea did not kinetically attack the South, instead they started playing their own propaganda over loudspeakers located along the northern side of the DMZ.
This brings us up to the moment, which is a very tense one, especially considering the amount of military hardware operating over and around South Korea and the fact that the mostly cold war between the neighbors has gone hot, albeit in a very limited fashion.
Five years ago, the North sunk a South Korean Navy warship killing 46 sailors, an act that almost brought the two countries to war. Since then, new plans have supposedly been put into place to deal with violent acts from the North with a heavier hand, which some argue will only increase the chances that both sides will annihilate each-other. Today’s situation will test South Korea’s tolerance and proportional response plans, which makes the whole event that much more volatile.
We will keep you updated on any major developments.
Contact the author at Tyler@jalopnik.com.