North Korea and South Korea exchange gunfire in Demilitarised Zone

3 May 2020, 08:25

Shots were fired in the demilitarised zone
Shots were fired in the demilitarised zone. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

South Korea says its troops have exchanged fire with North Korea along their tense land border.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff in Seoul said North Korean troops fired several bullets at a South Korean guard post inside the heavily fortified border between the countries on Sunday.

Gunshots fired by North Korea at 07:41 (23:41 BST) hit a South Korean guard post, Seoul's military said.

The military said in a statement South Korea fired two rounds in response after issuing a warning broadcast.

It said South Korea suffered no casualties.

South Korean news agency Yonhap reported the office as saying: "Our military is in the process of grasping the situation with the North through the military communication line and preventing further situations from occurring."

The last known gunfire at the border was in 2017, when North Koreans fired on a soldier trying to defect to the South.

Kim Jong Un disappeared from public view for 20 days
Kim Jong Un disappeared from public view for 20 days. Picture: PA

Sunday's fire exchange took place a day after North Korea reported its leader Kim Jong Un's first public appearance in some 20 days amid intense speculation about his health.

The North Korean leader cut the ribbon at the opening of a fertiliser factory in Sunchon at a ceremony with other senior officials.

These included his sister Kim Yo Jong, who many analysts predict would take over if her brother is suddenly unable to rule.

State media said workers at the factory broke into "thunderous cheers" for Mr Kim, who it said is guiding the nation in a struggle to build a self-reliant economy in the face of "head wind" by "hostile forces".

Rumours of his ill health began after the leader did not attend the Day of the Sun celebration on 15 April, which marks the birthday of Kim Il-sung, his grandfather and the founder of the country.

South Korea's government had downplayed rumours and unconfirmed reports that Kim was in poor health following a medical procedure, saying it had detected no unusual activity in the North.

The office of President Moon Jae-in said it detected no unusual signs in North Korea or any emergency reaction by the country's ruling party, military and cabinet.

It said it believed Kim was still managing state affairs but staying at an unspecified location outside Pyongyang.