Two North Korean incursions in 5 days after Seoul agreed to relax security

by WorldTribune Staff, December 17, 2018

South Korea reportedly scrambled fighter jets after, on two occasions in one week, North Korean aircraft crossed the South’s tactical action line (TAL).

South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo and television network Channel A reported on Dec. 13 that the South’s military took corresponding action after the North Korean helicopter was detected on South Korean radar.

The incident occurred just five days after two North Korean helicopters crossed a different area of the TAL, near Ganghwa county on the western coast of the peninsula. The South’s military scrambled fighter jets in response to that breach as well, according to Channel A.

South Korea’s left-leaning President Moon Jae-In signed a surprise military pact with North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un in September without the parliament’s consent that demands dismantling many forward deployed guard posts along the DMZ demarcation line in order to reduce bilateral military tensions.

What particularly alarmed more than 400 retired South Korean generals who issued a statement about the Sept. 19 pact with Pyongyang was that it also mandated the expansion of no-fly zones along the DMZ region, reported on Nov. 27. “This single-handedly surrenders ROK’s aerial surveillance capability at the front line to detect any signs of a North Korean blitzkrieg,” according to the report.

North Korea may be testing South Korea’s reaction to such incursions, analysts suggested.

Dr. Tara O, director at the East Asia Research Center and a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force. tweeted: “#NorthKorean slow speed aircraft (likely helicopter) flew southward & crossed the TAL line again. This is the 2nd time in 5 days. #SouthKorean fighters scrambled again. NK practicing insertion of special ops?”

Winter training for North Korean troops usually starts in December. But military analysts said it is rare for a North Korean flight to descend to a tactical line even during winter training.

Shin Jong-Woo, director of the Defense Security Forum, said, “The North Korean military knows that if they cross TAL, our troops will respond. There have often been cases of tension between the two Koreas, but it is unusual to have crossed the TAL successively in a peaceful atmosphere,” according to the Chosun Ilbo report.

Related: South Korea soldier shot and killed in DMZ after dismantling of guard posts, Nov. 23, 2018

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