North Korea Leadership Watch

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KPA Fires Artillery Shells in West Sea, Captures Fishing Boat in East

Marine troops stand guard along the coast of Bangnyeong Island during a military exercise in the West Sea on Thursday. (Yonhap)

The Korean People’s Army punctuated the ROK military’s defensive anti-submarine drills held in the West (Yellow) Sea, by firing 130 artillery shells near the NLL.  The KPA western zone command issued a notice last week saying that, “it is the unchanging and firm resolve of our people and military to control fire with fire.”  Korea Herald reports:

North Korea fired some 130 coastal artillery shells into waters near the western inter-Korean maritime border Monday, further ratcheting up tensions between the two Koreas.

“From 5:30 p.m. for 3 minutes, (the North) fired some 10 shells into waters near the Northern Limit Line off Bangnyeong Island. And then, between 5:52 p.m. and 6:14 p.m., some 120 shots were fired into the waters near Yeonpyeong Island,” said a military official.

“The Navy has strengthened its vigilance and readiness posture.”

The fired shells did not land in waters south of the NLL, a de facto sea border, and no damages were inflicted on the South, the official said.

The volley of the artillery fire came after the South Korean military finished its five-day maritime maneuvers in the West Sea, which were designed to enhance its defense capabilities against North Korean provocations.

The North has repeatedly warned of “physical action” against the drills, which followed the South Korea-U.S. joint exercise conducted late last month in the East Sea in a show of force against the communist state.

The artillery shells were fired a day after the DPRK seized a squid-fishing boat in the East Sea, near the DPRK-Russia border.  The 41-ton Daesung 55 was being towed to Songjin.

Chosun Ilbo reports:

The Coast Guard said the Daeseung went missing while catching squid and was captured by North Korean authorities in the North’s so-called exclusive economic zone.

According to the Coast Guard, South Korean maritime authorities in Pohang Port asked the Daeseung crew over a satellite telephone around 2:35 p.m. Sunday, “Are you being dragged by a North Korean patrol boat?” The crew replied, “Yes.” The bureau then asked where the boat was heading. The crew said it was being towed to the North Korean port of Songjin in Hamgyong Province. Then communications were cut off.

The Daeseung, which had been catching squid in the East Sea, reported its location to Pohang Port around 6:30 p.m. Saturday through regular communication channels but failed to report further at 5:35 a.m. Sunday.

A Coast Guard officer said, “We’re checking if the boat violated the North’s EEZ because the fishing grounds are adjacent to North Korean waters.”

Communications were cut off when the boat was approximately 270 miles northeast of Pohang in South Korea and 270 miles east of Hungnam in the North.

Yonhap File Photo

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