North Korea breached the recently scrapped 2018 inter-Korean military accord approximately 3,600 times, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said Monday.
The number of violations by North Korea, counted from the time the deal was reached six years ago, was announced following three consecutive days of North Korean provocations along the sea boundary.
The JCS in Seoul told the press that due to North Korea’s firing of artillery shells near South Korean border islands over the past three days, there are now no areas where military measures are halted.
“Rather than reacting to the enemy actions on a case-by-case basis, our troops will be carrying out drills according to our own plans in the northwestern islands,” it said.
South Korea staged a drill of its own Friday afternoon in response to North Korea firing some 200 rounds into waters north of their western sea boundary earlier in the day. The North Korean drills sparked an evacuation order across nearby islands, forcing residents there to seek shelter.
Then on Saturday and Sunday, the frontline firing of artillery shells by North Korea continued in the sea.
In a statement over the weekend, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, denied that artillery shells had been fired, claiming that the South Korean military had instead been “fooled” by the sounds of explosives detonating.
She added that “even a slight provocation from the enemy” would be met with an “immediate strike” by the North Korean military.
The South’s JCS said that the latest statement from Kim appears to be “part of Pyongyang’s psychological warfare efforts” and issued “stern warnings” against conducting provocative drills around the maritime borders.
Yang Uk, a senior researcher at the Asan Institute of Policy Studies in Seoul, said Kim’s statement serves two aims: to find out the extent of South Korean capabilities to detect North Korean military activities and to discredit South Korean government announcements in the international arena.
“Kim Yo-jong’s remarks are propaganda for portraying South Korean assessment as an overreaction,” he told The Korea Herald.
Rep. Tae Yong-ho, a former North Korean diplomat now with the South Korean ruling party, agreed that the Kim Yo-jong claims of having “fooled” Seoul were “low-level propaganda” and “psychological warfare tactics” by the Kim siblings in Pyongyang.
The 2018 inter-Korean military accord was originally set up with the aim of reducing tensions around the shared border. North Korea withdrew from the deal in November, after the launch of its first military reconnaissance satellite led to South Korea resuming surveillance operations in the border area.
Seoul officials have said North Korea will likely escalate weapons tests in time for the April general election in South Korea and the November presidential election in the US.
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