SEOUL (dpa) – A drone found Monday off the west coast of South Korea was thought have been launched by the North Korean military, the Joint Chief of Staff in Seoul was quoted as saying by a news report.
The wreckage was found by a fisherman early Monday afternoon in South Korean waters near the border island of Baengnyeong, Yonhap News Agency reported.
A spokesman for the Defence Ministry confirmed the find, but said an investigation into the country of origin was ongoing.
Three drones, apparently from North Korea, were found in March and April near the border, in the water and on land. Data recovered showed that they had been sent by Pyongyang to gather intelligence, news reports said.
North Korea denied the charges of espionage, but the incident raised questions in the South about the effectiveness of the country’s air defences. The news came after Pyongyang said earlier Monday that South Korea must lift some economic sanctions and halt “hostile acts” as a condition for any talks.
Seoul offered in August to hold a second round of high-level talks on family reunions and other outstanding issues between the two countries, Yonhap reported.
North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper said economic sanctions imposed after its forces allegedly sank a South Korean warship in 2010 were hindering reconciliation efforts. The sanctions effectively halted all economic cooperation between the two sides, except for the joint venture at the Kaesong industrial zone.
The South Korean warship Cheonan was sunk in March 2010 with the loss of 46 sailors. Pyongyang denied that its forces were responsible. The article in the newspaper run by the Workers’ Party also called on Seoul to cancel joint military drills with US forces. “It’s the very first step to open the door for dialogue,” it said. North Korea recently demanded an end to anti-communist messages sent tied to balloons from the South. Pyongyang described the balloon propaganda as “psychological warfare.”
South and North Korea occasionally hold reunions of families divided by the 1950-53 Korean War.