North Korea fired about 90 artillery rounds into its eastern waters on Tuesday, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said. The JCS added that the North’s artillery drills were detected from the Gosung area of Gangwon Province from 10 a.m. to the afternoon.
The artillery shells fell within the northern side of the maritime buffer zone that was created during the inter-Korean summit between then-South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang in 2018. At the time, the two Koreas agreed not to make any provocations that can be considered a direct security threat to the other side.
The South Korean military condemned the North’s artillery launches by calling them a clear violation of the 9/19 Military Agreement, which was signed during the inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang.
The South’s military said it is strengthening its readiness posture to cope with the North’s future provocations through close coordination with the United States.
Tuesday’s artillery launches were Pyongyang’s second military demonstration toward the South in as many days. North Korea fired at least 130 artillery rounds into its western and eastern waters on Monday.
An unidentified spokesperson for the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) said on Monday that the North’s firing of artillery shells was a “tit-for-tat” measure against South Korea’s own live-fire drills.
“From 08:30 to 15:50 on December 5, dozens of projectiles supposed to be the shells of multiple rocket launchers were fired towards the southeast direction from somewhere around Iphyongri, Cholwon [Cheorwon] County of South Kangwon Province of the enemy side,” the spokesperson said in the statement published by the North’s state media Korea Central News Agency (KCNA). The “enemy” referred to South Korea.
According to South Korea’s military, it is conducting live-fire drills with the U.S. military in the Cheorwon area. The drills, involving multiple rocket launching systems and howitzers, are set to end on Wednesday.
While urging the South Korean military to immediately stop its military activities near the inter-Korean border, the spokesperson also warned that the KPA General Staff “will settle accounts with all provocative actions of the enemy one by one and will always counter them with staunch and overwhelming military action.”
The South Korean military gave notice of its live-fire drills on Tuesday and specified that it will fire 24 multiple rocket launcher rounds and 140 rounds of its K-9 Thunder, an indigenous 155 mm self-propelled howitzer. North Korea again showed its belligerence stance over the South’s military activities.
Hours before the South Korean military confirmed the North’s artillery shell launches on Tuesday, the unidentified spokesperson for the KPA’s General Staff published a statement heralding another firing of artillery shells as a corresponding measure against the South’s live-fire drills in the morning.
“The enemy side must immediately stop the provocative military actions in the area close to the front,” the spokesperson said.
The South’s military said the ongoing live-fire drills, which were notified in advance, are not violations of the 9/19 Military Agreement. As North Korea vows to swiftly take tit-for-tat measures against the South’s military drills, however, no actor in the Korean Peninsula will likely step back from the arms race – which will aggravate the military tensions in the region.