Five North Korean drones entered South Korea Monday. South Korea responded with attack helicopters, scrambling aircraft and firing on the North Korean planes, according to the South Korean military.
A South Korean military official stated that the South Korean military sent surveillance planes into North Korea to take photographs of the North’s military facilities as part of the response.
Lee Seung-o (South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff) stated that this was a provocation from the North.
The North Korean drone flew close to Seoul (the capital of South Korea), while the other four flew towards the coast.
Lee stated that the South Korean military had “operated assets” to destroy the drones.
Although he did not mention if drones were shot down, the Yonhap news agency reported that South Korea’s military had fired approximately 100 rounds but didn’t shoot down any. Lee stated that South Korea fired the first “warning shots,” when it detected the drones.
Yonhap, reporting from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reported that one of the drones had returned to North Korea, while South Korea lost the four others.
North Korea does not have a channel to receive media inquiries from South Korea, and the state media did not mention drones.
Lee stated that a South Korean reconnaissance plane flew into North Korea to photograph the North Korean drone flight action, corresponding with the North Korean drone flights. This suggests that North Korean drones could also be used for reconnaissance.
South Korea identified the drones that were crossing from North Korea via the Military Demarcation Line. They were detected in the sky of Gimpo, the western city.
These drones were the first to come from an isolated neighbor since 2017 when a North Korean drone thought to be on spy missions crashed and was discovered on a mountain close to the border.
A North Korean drone was found on an island bordering South Korea in 2014.
These drones could be considered primitive aircraft, equipped with cameras.
Lee stated that the North Korean drones seen Monday night were only two meters in size, however, he did not give any further information, including details about what equipment they might be carrying.
The relations between North Korea, the United States and South Korea have been extremely poor over decades. However, tensions have grown recently after South Korea’s new conservative government was elected. North Korea continues to pursue its missile and nuclear programs.
South Korea and the United States have intensified military exercises in response to record numbers of North Korean missile tests this year. These exercises are seen by North Korea as preparations to invade.
These were met by more drills and tests from North Korea. There have also been rare sorties of warplanes close to the border.
South Korea’s Transport Ministry stated earlier that flight departures from Incheon or Gimpo airports had been suspended after a request by the military.
According to Reuters, a ministry official said that the suspension started at 1.08 p.m. (0404 GMT) at Gimpo. It ended at Incheon at 1:22 p.m. and lasted approximately an hour. Flight departures then resumed at 2:10 p.m.
A defense ministry official stated that the South Korean KA-1 light-attack aircraft, a KA-1, crashed while trying to stop the drones. It took off shortly from Wonju, in the country’s east. The two pilots of the aircraft were able to escape the accident and remain in the hospital.