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North Korea Fires Artillery Shells Into Sea as South Korea Begins Military Drills

( WSJ )

North Korea fired hundreds of artillery shells as South Korea kicked off military drills to counter North Korean provocations.

On Tuesday, North Korea fired about 100 shells into the sea off its west coast around 10 p.m. local time and 150 shells off its east coast about an hour later, Seoul’s military said on Wednesday. About 100 more shells were fired off North Korea’s west coast at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

South Korean troops began annual military drills on Monday, aimed at responding to North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats. Following North Korea’s latest provocations, South Korea’s military sent messages warning North Korea to stop firing in violation of a 2018 inter-Korean military agreement and urged North Korea to immediately suspend activities that harm peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and beyond.

On Sept. 19, 2018, the two Koreas agreed to suspend hostile acts near the border area to prevent military clashes. The shells fired on Tuesday and Wednesday didn’t land in South Korean waters, Seoul’s military said.

North Korea had fired shells near the inter-Korean maritime border on Friday, after conducting more than two dozen missile tests in 2022, a record number for a single year.

The two Koreas have blamed each other for worsening ties. North Korea said its firing of artillery shells was a response to dozens of shells fired by South Korea during its military drills on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to Pyongyang’s Wednesday state-media reports.

North Korea has characterized its recent flurry of weapons tests as responses to joint military drills by Washington, Tokyo and Seoul. Earlier this month, Pyongyang’s state media reported that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw two weeks of military drills that simulated tactical nuclear strikes against the U.S. and South Korea, including a launch that Pyongyang claimed had been fired from an underwater silo.

North Korea has returned to a familiar provocation cycle of launching ballistic missiles, violating United Nations Security Council resolutions and refusing to engage in talks. On Friday, South Korea issued its first unilateral sanctions against Pyongyang in nearly five years.

The South Korean administration under conservative President Yoon Suk-yeol has taken a more hard-line stance with the Kim regime and vowed to boost deterrence in the face of Pyongyang’s weapons provocations. South Korea has responded to North Korea’s threats with an equal show of force, including missile drills and jet fighters.

Pyongyang has completed preparations for its seventh nuclear test, Washington and Seoul officials said. South Korea’s ruling-party lawmakers have called on the Yoon administration to terminate the 2018 inter-Korean military agreement if North Korea conducts another nuclear test.

Washington has called on Pyongyang to cease provocative actions and to engage in dialogue, but in recent months the Kim regime has repeatedly said it has no interest in returning to talks with its enemies.

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