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A North Korean drone is displayed at the defense ministry in Seoul after it was discovered in the northeastern Gangwon Province in June of 2017
A North Korean drone is displayed at the defense ministry in Seoul after it was discovered in the northeastern Gangwon Province in June of 2017Image: Yonhap/picture alliance
ConflictsSouth Korea

South Korea fires at North Korean drones that crossed border

December 26, 2022

For the first time in five years, several North Korean drones violated the South's airspace, according to Seoul. The incident comes after a record pace of North Korean weapons demonstrations this year.


South Korea said on Monday that North Korea flew "several" drones into its airspace, prompting Seoul to fire warning shots and scramble aircraft. 

Tensions were heightened this year amid an unprecedented number of military tests. But Monday's incident is the first time since 2017 that Pyongyang's drones crossed into the South's airspace. 

What did South Korea say?

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said the military detected the drones at around 10 a.m. local time (0100 UTC). 

"Several North Korean unmanned aerial vehicles invaded our airspace" in the border areas around the northwestern Gyeonggi province, the JCS added.

"This is a clear act of provocation by the North violating our airspace," Lee Seung-o, a JCS official, told a briefing.

The Defense Ministry said that after firing warning shots, the military launched fighter jets and attack helicopters to shoot down the North Korean drones. 

According to the Yonhap news agency, South Korea fired more than 100 shots but still failed to shoot down the drones. 

The agency also reported, citing a Transport Ministry official, that flights were briefly suspended two major airports at the request of the JCS.

In 2017, authorities discovered a suspected North Korean drone that crashed in South Korea. At the time, South Korean authorities said the drone photographed a US missile defense system in South Korea.

The incident came three years after suspected North Korean drones were found south of the border. 

South Koreans prepared for North Korea's nukes

Record pace of drills

This year, Pyongyang has ramped up weapons testing with an unprecedented number of tests, launching more than 40 ballistic missiles.

North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters last Friday. The move was widely seen as retaliatory to joint South Korean-US military drills as Pyongyang views the exercises as an invasion rehearsal.

Pyongyang also recently claimed to have launched tests as part of developing its first military spy satellite and a new strategic weapon.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has warned that North Korea could be preparing for a nuclear test.

Earlier this year, the country's leader Kim Jong Un said this year that he wanted to have the world's most powerful nuclear arsenal.

fb/ar (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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