South Korea says buffer zones invalidated by North's artillery, plan to conduct drills at the border

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South Korea is claiming North Korean artillery drills have invalidated long-established buffer zones.

The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff announced Monday that it will resume drills in the area in response to the North Korean artillery bombardment, saying the restrictions on the zone “no longer exist.”

An agreement in 2018 between Seoul and Pyongyang established the buffer zones as a prohibited area for artillery fire or military drills.

NORTH KOREA FIRES HUNDREDS OF ARTILLERY SHELLS INTO DISPUTED BORDER AREA WITH SOUTH KOREA

South Korean military

South Korean marines board a military truck after patrolling a beach on Yeonpyeong Island, near the “northern limit line” sea boundary with North Korea on Jan. 8, 2024. (JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images)

Earlier this month, the North Korean military initiated a multiday bombardment of the border region with hundreds of artillery rounds in a series of military drills.

South Korean intelligence estimates approximately 200 shells fired into the area on Friday and an additional 60 on Saturday. 

NORTH KOREA FIRED 200 ARTILLERY ROUNDS NEAR BORDER, VIOLATING 2018 MILITARY AGREEMENT, SOUTH SAYS

North Korea South Korea television

People watch a television screen showing a news broadcast with file footage of North Korea’s artillery firing at a railway station in Seoul. North Korea fired more than 200 artillery shells near two South Korean islands on Jan. 5, Seoul’s defense ministry said, with an evacuation order issued for residents on one of them. (JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images)

The South Korean Defense Ministry reportedly fired approximately 400 rounds in response to the provocation.

“We gravely warn that the entire responsibility of such crisis-escalating situations lies with North Korea and strongly call for its immediate halt,” South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman Col. Lee Sung-jun said at a press conference during the artillery fire.

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South Korean military armed forces

Pyongyang’s military has fired hundreds of artillery shells near two sparsely-populated South Korean border islands, prompting evacuation orders, ferry cancelations and counter-drills. (JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images)

The western sea border between North Korean and South Korean territory has been the site of multiple skirmishes since the end of the Korean War. 

Naval combat broke out briefly in 1999, 2022 and 2009. 

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