N.Korea Steps Up Coat-Trailing Across Sea Border

      June 17, 2015 12:57

      North Korean patrol boats have crossed the Northern Limit Line, the de facto maritime border, four times this month alone.

      North Korean patrol boats crossed into South Korean waters across the NLL four times this month alone, according to a report by the Joint Chiefs of Staff submitted to Saenuri Party lawmaker Song Young-keun on Tuesday.

      There had been no incursions from January through March but one each in April and May. The patrol boats were apparently adrift with engine trouble and immediately turned back when warned by South Korean Navy ships.

      But the incursions this month were a different matter and gave every impression of being deliberate. On June 11, a North Korean boat crossed the NLL in a thick fog and ignored a warning from a South Korean Navy ship. It only turned tail when warning shots were fired.

      The military here is alarmed by the development. "Early this year, the North Korean military's violations of the NLL were few and far between," a military spokesman said. "But we remain vigilant after recent repeated violations."

      The North also carried out artillery practice near Baeknyeong and Yeonpyeong Islands just south of the NLL in May, which runs close to the North Korean coast, and test-fired three short-range missiles into the East Sea last week.

      Since May, the North has also increased the number of naval vessels roaming the area near the NLL and deployed many surface-to-ship cruise missiles on the coast.

      North Korean patrol boats have violated the NLL ever more frequently as years went by -- five times in 2012, nine times in 2013, and 13 times in 2014.

      The worst year, however, was 2009, when the number peaked at 23 violations followed by the sinking of the South Korean Navy corvette Cheonan and shelling of Yeonpyeong Island.

      "There's speculation that the frequent violations of the NLL have something to do with the approaching blue crab season in the West Sea," the spokesman added. "But we can't afford to let our guard down or rule out that frequent small-scale provocations will lead to a bigger one."

      • Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com
      Previous Next
      All Headlines Back to Top