A recent volley of shells across the border between North and South Korea could spell war, according to a report from North Korea’s Central News Agency revealing dictator Kim Jong Un’s military ambitions. While it is not unusual for the North Korean government to make such dramatic statements, the fact that both countries have openly fired on one another could signal a heightened state of conflict between two powers that have long sparred.
The heavily-guarded border between the Koreans, known as the Demilitarized Zone, has always been a tense area because of the significant numbers of troops and weapons stationed along it on both sides. However, North Korea officially declared that its front-line troops are in a “quasi-state of war” and issued a warning that further military action could be taken following South Korea’s retaliation for a surprise North Korean shelling.
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According to Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency, “military commanders were urgently dispatched for operations to attack South Korean psychological warfare facilities if the South doesn’t stop operating them.” Kim Jong Un also reportedly ordered his troops to “be fully ready for any military operations at any time from 5 p.m. (0730 GMT) Friday.”
South Korea recently began broadcasting anti-North Korea propaganda from loudspeakers on the border after 11 years of silence, an incident that seems to have sparked the violence. Seoul began airing the broadcasts again after accusing Pyongyang of crippling two of its soldiers with landmines in a tragic incident that occurred a few weeks ago.
So far, neither country has reported any injuries as a result of the artillery fire, but South Korea has been forced to evacuate hundreds of citizens from border towns in range of North Korea’s weaponry. South Korea’s government has resolved to bolster its defenses along the border, promising to thwart any North Korean attempts to continue the aggression. State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement that the U.S. is carefully monitoring developments in the region.