South Korea-North Korea: Another flare-up. The South Korean National Defense Ministry said today that a South Korean navy ship fired ten warning shots yesterday after three North Korean patrol boats crossed the Northern Limit Line, northwest of Seoul. The North's boats returned north without further incident.
In North Korea, however, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) published on 21 May an "open report" of the Command of the Southwestern Front of the Korean People's Army (KPA).
"The Park Geun Hye-led military gangsters' provocative hysteria has reached an extreme phase."
"On 20 May alone, gangsters of the south Korean puppet navy perpetrated such a grave military provocation as firing at random at the warships of the Korean People's Army which were on regular guard duty in the southwestern waters of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea side and peaceable Chinese fishing boats."
"This was a deliberate, grave provocative act of firing bullets and shells perpetrated by the south Korean puppet hooligans despite the fact that they were well aware warships of the KPA navy were operating to check the illegal fishing operations of Chinese civilian fishing boats in the sensitive waters…."
"The Command of the Southwestern Front of the KPA sends the following open notice:
1. From this very moment, all warships of the south Korean puppet navy, big and small, which recklessly maneuver in the sensitive waters of the southwestern front, hot spots, will become without exception targets of the direct sighting firing by all strike means under the above-said Command."
"2. The south Korean side will face military strikes of the KPA without any warning at the moment the latter detects any trifle provocation near the maritime guard demarcation of its army and around the five islands in the West Sea of Korea…."
"3. We unhesitatingly clarify before the world our will to settle accounts with the villains of the South Korean puppet army right now if they are to fight us at any cost."
Comment: The North Korean government requires the navy to be largely self-sustaining. It does this by outright piracy; by fishing; and by stealing the catch of Chinese fishing boats and holding the boats and crews for ransom.
The South Korean patrol ship apparently caught the North Koreans as they attempted to herd a group of Chinese fishing boats back north where they could be shaken down.