S. Korean troops fire to repel North soldiers

Secret mission: North Korean soldiers working at an undisclosed location near the border area, as seen from a South Korean guard area. South Korean soldiers fired warning shots to repel North Korean soldiers who temporarily crossed the rivals’ land border for the third time this month. — AP

The military said it had fired warning shots the previous day to repel North Korean soldiers who temporarily crossed the rivals’ land border for the third time this month.

Meanwhile, an activists’ group said it flew more balloons carrying propaganda leaflets towards North Korea, continuing a campaign that has aggravated animosities between the rivals and prompted a resumption of Cold War-style psychological warfare along their border.

The intrusions are likely related to the large number of troops North Korea has been deploying in frontline areas to fortify their side of the border, possibly to prevent civilians and soldiers from defecting to the South.

The South Korean civilian activists said it floated 20 balloons attached with 300,000 propaganda leaflets, 5,000 USB sticks with South Korean pop songs and TV dramas, and 3,000 US dollar bills from the South Korean border town of Paju on Thursday night.

Pyongyang resents such material and fears it could demoralise front-line troops and residents and eventually weaken leader Kim Jong-un’s grip on power, analysts say.

After previous leafletting by Park’s group and other South Korean activists, North Korean launched more than 1,000 balloons that dropped tons of trash in South Korea, smashing roof tiles and windows and causing other property damage.

In retaliation for the trash balloons, South Korea resumed anti-North Korea propaganda broadcasts with military loudspeakers installed at the border for the first time in years, to which Pyongyang warned that Seoul was “creating a prelude to a very dangerous situation”.

Tensions between the Koreas are at their highest in years as Kim accelerates his nuclear weapons and missile development and attempts to strengthen his regional footing by aligning with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a standoff against the US-led West.

On Thursday, South Korea’s government condemned an agreement by Kim and Putin at their summit this week in which their nations vowed to come to each other’s defence in the event of war.

In turn, Seoul said it will consider sending arms to Ukraine to help it fight Russia’s invasion.

South Korea, a growing arms exporter with a well-equipped military backed by the United States, has provided humanitarian aid and other support to Ukraine while joining US-led economic sanctions against Moscow.

But it has not directly provided arms to Ukraine, citing a long-standing policy of not supplying weapons to countries actively engaged in conflict. — AP

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