N.Korean Drone Flew Close to Presidential Office in Seoul

  • By Roh Suk-jo

    January 05, 2023 10:09

    One of five North Korean drones that invaded South Korean airspace on Dec. 26 flew within 3 km from the presidential office in Yongsan, Seoul, the South Korean military admitted Wednesday.
    At the time, military authorities repeatedly dismissed the possibility and claimed it only got as far as Eunpyeong district in the north of the capital.
    But analysis by military and intelligence agencies shows that one of the drones returned from spying on an area near the presidential office, Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup reported to President Yoon Suk-yeol.
    A government source told the Chosun Ilbo, "We belatedly found the trace of one North Korean drone that brushed the no-fly zone in Seoul on Dec. 26." The no-fly zone covers a 3.7 km radius from the presidential office, including parts of several central districts and Mt. Nam.
    The drone flew at a low altitude along the Han River between Gimpo, Paju and Ilsan, Gyeonggi Province before reaching Yongsan. The other four drones diverted the South Korean military's attention by flying around Gangwha and Seokmo islands in the West Sea.
    A security official said, "Cross-checks and analysis have revealed the trace of the drone that we failed to detect at the time."
    President Yoon Suk-yoel looks at drone miniatures during a visit to the Agency for Defense Development in Daejeon on Dec. 29 in 2022.
    Due to the drone incursion, South Korea is minded to give up on a fragile inter-Korean military agreement from 2018 that the North has repeatedly violated. Presidential spokeswoman Kim Eun-hye said Yoon asked staff to "consider suspending the agreement if the North violates South Korean territory again."
    The agreement is now effectively meaningless on the North Korean side but binds South Korea to certain restraints in carrying out military exercises south of the border. The North has violated it a dozen times already by firing ballistic missiles and artillery, but Seoul has so far tried to keep up its side of the bargain.
    It bans all "hostile acts" between the two Koreas on the ground, at sea and in the sky. At the time it was criticized here for hobbling South Korea's surveillance, reconnaissance and rapid response capacity.
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