Unidentified North Korean objects turn out to be propaganda balloons
By K.J. Kwon and Joshua Berlinger
Unidentified objects which flew across the border from the North were probably propaganda balloons, South Korea’s military said Wednesday.
South Korean forces fired warning shots at the unidentified objects Tuesday after they were spotted flying from North Korea across the Demilitarized Zone that divides the two countries.
“The objects were in the shape of a balloon… (and) flew in the wind’s direction before disappearing,” a South Korean military official told CNN. “Our military responded in accordance to our military protocol.”
South Korean activists regularly send propaganda balloons into North Korea, carrying leaflets or videos. In March, a North Korean defector filled balloons with information about the murder of Kim Jong Un’s half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, before floating them into the rogue state.
The suspected North Korean balloons were spotted two days after Pyongyang test-fired a ballistic missile — its second missile test in seven days.
It’s not the first time South Korea has reacted sternly to an object sent across its border.
The South responded with machine-gun fire after an unidentified North Korean aircraft crossed the DMZ early last year. It “immediately went towards the North,” a South Korean official said at the time.
Additionally, two suspected North Korean drones were found in South Korea in 2014, one on the island of Baengnyeong and another in the city of Paju, close to the border.
North Korea tensions rise
The situation on the Korean peninsula has intensified in recent months, with the nascent administration of US President Donald Trump vowing to pressure Pyongyang to the negotiating table. Kim Jong Un’s regime has responded defiantly, forging ahead with its missile tests, though the country has held back on conducting another nuclear test.
Speaking at a UN Conference on Disarmament Tuesday, North Korea’s diplomat Ju Yong Chol defended their missile tests as legitimate acts of self defense.
“The DPRK’s self-defensive measures to protect its dignity and vital rights, and genuine peace from the United States’ escalating nuclear threat are the legitimate rights of a sovereign state,” Ju said.
He also described North Korea as a “fully-fledged nuclear power.”