South Korea fires warning shots after drones from North Korea fly into its airspace. The defense ministry of South Korea said that five North Korean drones crossed into South Korean airspace on Monday. This caused the South Korean military to send out fighter jets and attack helicopters.
The ministry said that the South Korean military shot at the drones, but it couldn't say for sure if any were shot down.
A South Korean defense official named Lee Seung-oh said that four of the drones flew around Ganghwa island and one flew over the northern airspace of the capital city of Seoul.
During a briefing, Lee said, "This is a clear provocation and an invasion of our airspace by North Korea." Lee said that in response to the violation of South Korean airspace, the South Korean military sent both manned and unmanned reconnaissance assets to the area near the inter-Korean border, with some of them going into North Korean territory.
Lee said that the assets did a reconnaissance mission that included taking pictures of North Korea's military installations.
South Korea's defense ministry says that the drones were first seen in the sky near the city of Gimpo in the country's northwest at around 10:25 a.m. local time on Monday.
The South Korean defense ministry says that the last time a North Korean drone was seen below the border between the two countries was in 2017. At the time, South Korea said it had found a North Korean spy drone that had crashed and was looking at a US-made missile system in the country.
This year, North Korea has stepped up its missile tests and often launched more than one missile at the same time. It has fired missiles on 36 different days, which is the most in one year since Kim Jong Un came to power in 2012.
South Korean officials say that North Korea last launched two short-range ballistic missiles on Friday. The missiles were sent into the water between the Korean Peninsula and Japan from the Sunan area of Pyongyang.
Most of the time, the secretive country tests its missiles by firing them at an angle so high that they land in the water between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.
But in October, for the first time in five years, it sent an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) on a normal path over Japan.
Six fighter gets in the air
In November, North Korea said it had launched a "new type" of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) called Hwasong-17 from Pyongyang International Airfield. This missile could theoretically reach the U.S. mainland. And last week, Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong Un's sister and a top official in the regime, said in state media that North Korea was ready to test-fire an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on a normal trajectory, which would show that the weapons can threaten the continental United States.
Experts from the US and South Korea have warned that Pyongyang might be getting ready for its first nuclear test in more than five years. North Korea has been building up its nuclear missile forces in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. It has been doing this more and more since the last of three meetings between Kim Jong Un and then-US President Donald Trump in 2019 did not lead to a deal.
Kim warned in October that his nuclear forces are ready for "real war."
Kim said, as reported by the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency:
Our nuclear combat forces proved again that they are fully ready for a real war to bring the enemies under their control.- Kim Jong Un, president of North Korea