SEOUL (AFP) – North and South Korean naval patrol boats briefly exchanged warning fire Tuesday near their disputed Yellow Sea border which has been the site of numerous clashes in the past, the South’s defence ministry said.
The incident came as hopes had been raised of a constructive reboot in strained inter-Korean relations following the surprise visit of a top-ranking North Korean delegation to the South just three days before.
The defence ministry said the South’s patrol boat had initially fired a warning shot after the North Korean vessel penetrated half a nautical mile inside the South’s territorial waters.
Instead of retreating immediately, the North patrol boat opened fire, so “our side fired back,” a ministry spokesman said, adding that there neither vessel had directly targetted the other and “no damage” was sustained. The South’s patrol boat fired “around 90” rounds in total.
The incident took place at 9.50am (0050 GMT) near the South Korean border island of Yeonpyeong, and the North patrol boat retreated to its side of the border 10 minutes later.