S. Korea Shoots N. Korean Drones


South Korea flag | Image by railway fx/Shutterstock

After discovering what appeared to be five unmanned drones flying from North Korea into South Korean airspace on Monday, the South Korean military dispatched Air Force fighter jets and attack helicopters.

The drones crossed the demilitarized zone (DMZ) to the South, as the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff confirmed that afternoon.

The helicopters fired a combined 100 rounds at the drones, but it is not known whether any North Korean drones were shot down, according to the Korean Minister of Defense.

One is believed to have returned to North Korea after presumably taking three hours of surveillance footage, while the rest disappeared from South Korean military radar.

This is the first known violation of South Korean airspace in five years.

“Our military has taken countermeasures after detecting unidentified objects — presumed to be North Korean uncrewed aerial vehicles — starting from 10:25 a.m. local time on Monday in the areas of Gyeonggi Province,” the Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said, according to The Korea Herald. “This is a flagrant violation of intruding our airspace.”

As the South Korean fighter jets scrambled to respond to the drones on Monday, a KA-1 light attack plane crashed during takeoff. Both personnel onboard ejected safely, defense officials said.

No damage has been reported on the ground, though South Korean civilian airports in and near Seoul did halt takeoffs temporarily.

To match the North Korean drone flights, South Korean officials have reportedly sent drones or “surveillance assets” near and across the border to photograph vital military facilities in North Korea.

It is believed that North Korea has around 300 drones, several of which were discovered in South Korean territory in 2014 and 2017.

The drones flying over South Korea on Monday came after North Korea tested more ballistic missiles last Thursday, according to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Public Affairs, which confirmed that no U.S. military personnel or allies were in danger.

“The missile launch highlights the destabilizing impact of the DPRK’s unlawful WMD and ballistic missile programs,” the statement reported. “The U.S. commitments to the defense of the Republic of Korea and Japan remain ironclad.”

In late November, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol warned of an unprecedented joint response, with help from key allies, if North Korea did not halt its ballistic missile program. Failing to do so, the president said, would warrant a response that “will be something that has never been seen before.”

“It would be extremely unwise for North Korea to conduct a seventh nuclear test,” Yoon continued.

North Korea’s foreign minister Choe Son-hui said that a recent agreement between the U.S., South Korea, and Japan about the North would make things “more uncertain” on the Korean Peninsula in a statement released in November, as The Dallas Express reported previously.

North Korea’s state media outlet, KCNA, reported on the 11th anniversary of Chairman Kim Jong-il’s passing this Monday, noting that celebrations had taken place in Mongolia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Germany, Romania, Bulgaria, Belarus, Austria, Serbia, and Egypt.

Drones were not mentioned.

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