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 A North Korean flag flutters in the wind
Pyongyang has intensified the development of its weapons despite stringent international sanctionsImage: Lee Jin-man/AP Photo/picture alliance
ConflictsSouth Korea

South Korea sends drones into North after incursions

December 27, 2022

On Monday, North Korean drones flew above various South Korean cities prompting Seoul to scramble fighter jets and attack helicopters. Seoul apologized for not shooting down the North's drones.


South Korea on Tuesday sent apparent unmanned drones across the border into North Korea, a day after five North Korean drones crossed the border prompting Seoul to scramble fighter jets and attack helicopters.

For almost five hours, the North Korean drones flew above various South Korean cities, including Seoul, in the first such intrusion since 2017.

The military attempted to shoot down Pyongyang's drones by firing 100 rounds from a machine gun-equipped helicopter but failed to bring any down.

President reacts strongly

In response to Monday's incursions, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol demanded a stronger air defense system and cutting-edge stealth drones to monitor its reclusive neighbor more closely.

"The incident showed a substantial lack of our military's preparedness and training for the past several years, and clearly confirmed the need for more intense readiness and training," Yoon told a cabinet meeting.

"We have a plan to create a military drone unit tasked with monitoring key military facilities in North Korea. But we will advance the establishment of the drone unit as soon as possible because of yesterday's incident," he said.

"We'll also introduce state-of-the art stealth drones and bolster our surveillance capability."

South Korean military apologizes

The incident also prompted South Korea's military to apologize Tuesday for its failure to shoot down the drones. Seoul pledged to secure anti-drone strike capabilities.

It is exceedingly rare for South Korea to publicly admit reconnaissance operations inside of North Korea. Analysts suggest Yoon's determination to respond strongly to North Korean provocations is likely the reason.

Yoon, a conservative who took office in May, believes his liberal predecessor Moon Jae-in's policy of relying on Pyongyang's "good intentions" is to be blamed for the unpreparedness.

North Korean leader touts nation power

Meanwhile, across the border, leader Kim Jong Un opened a key political meeting with a report that touted North Korea's increased power in "in all fields of politics, military, economy and culture," the official Korean Central News Agency said on Tuesday.

At the Workers' Party plenary meeting in Pyongyang, which opened on Monday, Kim also urged for more efforts to address the difficulties and challenges facing his nation.

The plenary conference is expected to last several days, and later sessions are likely to feature Kim talking about things like his arms buildup, his ties with the United States, and the economy.

Weapon development despite sanctions

Pyongyang has intensified the development of its weapons despite stringent international sanctions.

Kim has said he wants North Korea to have the world's most powerful nuclear force, and declared the country an "irreversible" nuclear state this year.

The reclusive nation has carried out a record number of missile tests this year.

At the Workers' Party meeting last year, the North Korean leader had pledged to develop new 500-km range reconnaissance drones.

Did German research collaboration aid North Korea's military aims?

ss/ar (AP, AFP, Reuters)


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