South Korea fired warning shots yesterday after a North Korean patrol boat crossed a disputed maritime border to the west of the divided peninsula, the South’s military said.
Such incidents are not unheard of along the tense sea border between the rivals, but it came on the day that the Asian Games officially opened in the South, with North Korean athletes participating.
The patrol boat came 0.5 nautical miles (about 900m) inside the South’s side of the disputed Yellow Sea border shortly after midday, a South Korean Ministry of Defense spokesman said.
“One of our naval vessels gave a verbal warning by loudspeaker and then fired six warning rounds,” the spokesman said.
The North Korean ship returned across the border minutes later, he added.
The maritime boundary, which was unilaterally drawn by the US-led UN forces after the 1950-1953 Korean War, was the scene of brief, but bloody naval clashes in 1999, 2002 and 2009.
The two Koreas are technically still at war after their conflict ended in a truce, and their border is one of the most heavily militarized in the world.
The disputed western waters are the most volatile area of the border.
Four years ago, North Korea shelled a South Korean island in the region, killing four people. Earlier this year, the two sides fired hundreds of artillery shells into each other’s waters.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye told Reuters in an interview this week that the door was open for talks with the North during the upcoming UN General Assembly session.
However, Park said Pyongyang must show sincerity in seeking constructive dialogue and “walk the talk” in taking up Seoul’s offers for engagement aimed at ending a deadlock after a decade of warming ties.
Earlier this week, a South Korean fisherman found a suspected North Korean drone in his net near a frontline island close to the Yellow Sea border.
The wreckage, without a wing, engine or camera, was recovered when it got caught in his net off Baengnyeong Island.