North and South Korea exchange gunfire across border at guard post

By Cynthia Kim

SEOUL (Reuters) - North and South Korea exchanged gunfire around the South's guard post early on Sunday, raising tension a day after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ended an almost three-week absence from public life with state media showing him visiting a factory.

Multiple gunshots were fired from North Korea at 7:41 a.m. local time towards a guard post in South Korea that borders the North, the South's joint chiefs of staffs said in a statement.

South Korea responded by firing two shots towards North Korea, no injuries were reported.

After weeks of intense speculation about Kim's health and whereabouts, the country's official media published photographs and a report on Saturday that Kim had attended the completion of a fertiliser plant, the first report of his appearance since April 11.

Kim was seen in photographs smiling and talking to aides at the ribbon-cutting ceremony and touring the plant. The authenticity of the photos, published on the website of the official Rodong Sinmun newspaper, could not be verified.

The exchange of gunshots was the latest confrontation between the rival Koreas that technically remain at war.

Choi Kang, vice president of the Asian Institute for Policy Studies, says the timing of the 'grey area' provocation shows Kim is still in charge of the North Korean military.

"Yesterday, Kim was trying to show he is perfectly healthy, and today, Kim is trying to mute all kinds of speculation that he may not have full control over the military," Choi said.

"Rather than going all the way by firing missiles and supervising a missile launch, Kim could be reminding us, 'yes I'm healthy and I'm still in power'."

Ewha University international affairs professor Leif-Eric Easley in Seoul said the shooting incident could be aimed at boosting morale in the North Korean military.

"The Kim regime may be looking to raise morale of its frontline troops and to regain any negotiating leverage lost during the rumor-filled weeks of the leader's absence," said Easley.

"South Korea and the United States should not take lightly such North Korean violations of existing military agreements."

(Reporting by Cynthia Kim, Hyonhee Shin, Josh Smith; Editing by Michael Perry)


More Related News

Kim Jong Un
Kim Jong Un's sister says she doubts another U.S.-North Korea summit will happen this year
  • World
  • 2020-07-10 16:11:20Z

North Korea has insisted it is not interested in resuming nuclear talks with the U.S. as long as it continues to engage in behavior like extending sanctions.

Seoul mayor
Seoul mayor's apparent suicide sends shock waves through South Korea

News that the former activist, women's rights advocate and lawyer had apparently taken his own life has rocked South Korea's capital.

Kim's sister says 'no need' for another US-N. Korea summit

The powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said Friday there was "no need" for another summit with the United States unless Washington offered a "decisive change" in approach. Kim and US President Donald Trump first met in Singapore two years ago but talks over Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal have been stalled since their Hanoi summit collapsed in early 2019 over what the North would be willing to give up in exchange for sanctions relief. Trump said this week he would "certainly" meet with Kim again "if I thought it was going to be helpful", after speculation that he might pursue another summit if it could help his re-election chances in November.

Seoul mayor left note saying
Seoul mayor left note saying 'sorry' as South Korea mourns
  • World
  • 2020-07-10 03:05:50Z

Seoul's mayor left a note saying he felt "sorry to all people" before he was found dead early Friday, officials in the South Korean capital said as people began mourning the liberal legal activist seen as a potential presidential candidate. Mayor Park Won-soon had been found dead in wooded hills in northern Seoul hours after his daughter reported to police he had left her a "will-like" verbal message and disappeared. Seoul government officials said Park canceled his scheduled appointments and did not come to work Thursday without explanation.

U.S. envoy wraps up South Korea visit overshadowed by North Korea tensions
U.S. envoy wraps up South Korea visit overshadowed by North Korea tensions

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun was due to wrap up meetings with South Korean officials in Seoul on Thursday, before moving on to Japan in a trip overshadowed by stalled denuclearisation talks with North Korea. In Seoul on Wednesday, Biegun rejected speculation he was seeking to meet North Korean officials during his visit to the region, but reiterated the United States was open to resuming talks. After a series of back-to-back meetings with South Korean officials on Wednesday, Biegun was expected to meet on Thursday with Suh Hoon, a former spy chief recently named as South Korean President Moon Jae-in's national security adviser.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply


Top News: Latin America