South Korean soldiers open fire after North Korean troops cross border in major escalation of simmering tensions

11 June 2024, 12:54

Tensions are rising between South Korea and North Korea
Tensions are rising between South Korea and North Korea. Picture: Getty

By Kit Heren

South Korean troops opened fire recently after North Korean soldiers crossed the border, in a major escalation of hostilities between the neighbouring countries.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

The longstanding tensions between the two countries have been heightened in recent weeks, with South Korea transmitting aggressive propaganda broadcasts in response to North Korea holding bizarre stunts.

The two countries have a dividing demilitarised zone (DMZ) between them, in the middle of which is the military demarcation line (MDL), which serves as the border.

The incursion across the border by about 30 North Korean troops working in the DMZ took place at about 12.30pm local time on Sunday. South Korean troops fired warning shots in response, and the North Koreans did not return fire.

The South Korean government does not believe the border crossing was a deliberate act of aggression by North Korea.

Read more: North Korea fails to launch 'spy satellite' into orbit again - but forces Japanese island to 'take cover'

Read more: North Korea dumps 260 balloons filled with 'excrement' and rubbish on South

A barbed-wired fence is seen at the Imjingak Pavilion, near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on June 11, 2024 in Paju, South Korea.
A barbed-wired fence is seen at the Imjingak Pavilion, near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on June 11, 2024 in Paju, South Korea. Picture: Getty

"Some North Korean soldiers working within the DMZ on the central front briefly crossed the Military Demarcation Line (MDL)," the South Korean joint chiefs of staff (JCS) said.

"After our military issued warning broadcasts and warning shots, they retreated northward."

Some of the North Korean troops were carrying construction tools, while others were armed.

The area that the North Koreans crossed is wooded and the MDL is difficult to identify, according to JCS spokesperson Lee Sung Joon. Local media reported that the soldiers had probably got lost.

Border tensions between South Korea and North Korea have been rising
Border tensions between South Korea and North Korea have been rising. Picture: Getty

Lee said: "We believe that they did not intend to invade, considering that they immediately moved northward after the warning broadcasts and warning shots."

The 155-mile long DMZ is the world's most heavily guarded border. It also contains an estimated two million mines.

The two countries were created by the Korean War, which lasted from June 1950-July 1953.

Korea had been part of the Japanese Empire before the Second World War, and was subsequently divided by the US and the Soviet Union.

Although there were plans for it to become its own single, independent country, both South and North Korea formed their own governments in the late 1940s.

A South Korean soldier stands guard near a military facility (R, green box) where loudspeakers dismantled in 2018 used to be, near the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in Paju on June 11, 2024.
A South Korean soldier stands guard near a military facility (R, green box) where loudspeakers dismantled in 2018 used to be, near the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in Paju on June 11, 2024. Picture: Getty

North Korea invaded the South in 1950 and the two fought a bloody war, supported by China and the UN respectively, that ended with an armistice in 1953 and the formation of the DMZ.

On Sunday, South Korea resumed anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts from its border loudspeakers in response to the North's recent launches of balloons carrying manure and rubbish across the border.

South Korea said North Korea has installed its own border loudspeakers in response but has not turned them on yet.

North Korea has said its balloon campaign was in response to South Korean activists' launches of their own balloons to drop propaganda leaflets critical of leader Kim Jong Un's authoritarian rule, USB sticks with K-pop songs and South Korean drama shows, and other items in North Korea.

North Korea's propaganda village Kaepoong is seen from the Unification Observation Platform, near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) o
North Korea's propaganda village Kaepoong is seen from the Unification Observation Platform, near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) o. Picture: Getty

North Korea is extremely sensitive to any outside criticism of its political system, as most of its 26 million people have no official access to foreign news.

On Sunday night, Mr Kim's sister and senior official, Kim Yo Jong, warned of "a new response" if South Korea continued its loudspeaker broadcasts and refused to stop civilian leafletting campaigns.

The tit-for-tat over speakers and balloons - both Cold War-style psychological warfare - has deepened tensions between the Koreas as talks over the North's nuclear ambitions have remained stalled for years.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Nigel Farage said that the West had provoked Putin into invading Ukraine

'We gave Putin an excuse': Nigel Farage says the West provoked Russia into invading Ukraine

Breaking
Breaking News

Two charged after Just Stop Oil protesters sprayed private jets with orange paint at Stansted Airport

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

Tories raise less than £300k in second week of election campaign, as over three-quarters of all donations go to Labour

File photo of passengers boarding an Easyjet plane

Chaos as Easyjet kicks 26 men off flight headed from the UK to Portugal for 'disruptive behaviour'

Bardia Shojeifard

'Outwardly normal' teen killer with 'worrying interest in knives' posed with huge blade before murdering Alfie Lewis, 15

Police were called to a property at Shorncliffe Road shortly after 3pm on Sunday

Pictured: Baby girl mauled to death in Coventry dog attack at family home

Public schoolboy guilty of attempted murder after vicious clawhammer attack on sleeping staff and students ahead of 'zombie apocalypse'

Public schoolboy obsessed by 'zombie apocalypse' guilty of claw hammer attack on sleeping staff and students

PC Idominik Efeotor raised the issue at the annual State of London debate

'The people who investigate the officers are the problem’: Black Met officer hits out at disproportionate treatment in disciplinary process

Salisbury Novichok victim Dawn Sturgess

Former spy and daughter may give evidence at Salisbury poisonings inquiry

Rishi Sunak has urged voters not to let Labour 'waltz into office'

'Don't let Labour waltz into office', Sunak tells voters as Brits may not 'ever' be able to get them out of power

Exclusive
Starmer says eco mob 'needs to feel the full force of the law' as he slams 'pathetic' Just Stop Oil

Starmer says eco mob 'needs to feel the full force of the law' as he slams 'pathetic' Just Stop Oil

The M6

Drivers face misery as major motorway closed for three days next week, sending cars on 90 minute diversion

Kings College Hospital NHS Trust is one of two London Hospitals affected by the hackers

Russian hackers publish NHS patients' details and blood test results online after London hospital cyber attack

Bardia Shojaeifard killed Alfie Lewis

'Outwardly normal' boy, 15, who murdered teenager Alfie Lewis named for first time as judge lifts anonymity

Helicopters, sniffer dogs and 4x4s have been deployed in the search for Jay Slater.

Helicopters and sniffer dogs deployed as Spanish authorities focus on new terrain in search for missing Jay Slater

Former Man United footballer Nicky Butt sentenced after breaking motorcyclist's leg in horror Range Rover crash

Former Man United footballer Nicky Butt sentenced after breaking motorcyclist's leg in horror Range Rover crash