The confrontation between South Korea and North Korea, which has been going on for several months, gained in intensity with the launch of 23 missiles by Pyongyang on Wednesday, November 2nd, leading to a South Korean retaliation.
The simmering confrontation between the two Koreas has gained momentum since North Korea resumed its ballistic missile launches a few months ago to intimidate its neighbour and enemy, while strutting its strength to gain respect from the U.S. and Japan.
For the first time, one of the missiles launched by Kim Jong-un’s regime crossed a demarcation line on the eastern coast of the Korean peninsula, the Northern Limit Line (NLL), which was established in 1953 after the Korean War, triggering an alarm for the inhabitants of the small island of Ulleungdo. An act was deemed “rare and intolerable” by the head of the South Korean Army.
The reaction of South Korea was not long in coming. President Yoon Suk-yeol called the North Korean fire an “effective territorial invasion” and retaliated by launching three air-to-ground missiles north of the NLL.
There were no casualties on either side, but the missile exchange marks a further step in the deterioration of relations between the two Koreas as the U.S. fears further nuclear tests by Pyongyang. North Korea justifies its strikes as a response to the implementation of new joint military exercises led by South Korea, the Americans, and the Australians, and the interoperability between these allied forces. These exercises, known as Vigilant Storm, follow a first series of manoeuvres carried out during the summer. At the time of Donald Trump, such exercises already existed but had been suspended in order to improve relations between Pyongyang and Washington. They resumed under Joe Biden.Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo have already promised strong retaliatory measures if Kim Jong-un launches new nuclear tests. But the North Korean dictator is counting on China and Vladimir Putin’s Russia to limit retaliation at the UN Security Council. A few months ago, when Pyongyang had carried out a ballistic test, Moscow had already vetoed new sanctions against North Korea. The collusion between Moscow and Pyongyang is evident in the shipment of weapons from Korea to Russia—a ‘dissimulated’ material support that was condemned on Wednesday, November 2nd, by John Kirby, spokesman for the White House National Security Council.