South Korean forces mistake balloons from North as drones, fire at them

Seoul: Flying objects that prompted South Korean forces to fire warning shots this week appeared to be balloons carrying propaganda leaflets from the North, Seoul's military said on Wednesday.

On Tuesday the defence ministry said troops had opened fire when an unidentified flying object entered the country's airspace across the tense border with North Korea, with a military official saying it appeared to be a drone.

South Korean Army K1A1 and US Army M1A2 tanks fire live rounds during a US-South Korea joint live-fire military exercise, at a training field, near the demilitarized zone, separating the two Koreas in Pocheon, South Korea. Reuters

South Korean Army K1A1 and US Army M1A2 tanks fire live rounds during a US-South Korea joint live-fire military exercise, at a training field, near the demilitarized zone, separating the two Koreas in Pocheon, South Korea. Reuters

Defence ministry spokesman Moon Sang-Gyun on Wednesday told journalists that detailed examinations pointed to "balloon-like objects", 10 of which were observed flying with the winds in the border area. Some of them travelled into the South's territory, he said.

Both Koreas — plus anti-Pyongyang activists based in the South — send leaflets across the border, tied to gas-filled balloons.

But Moon ruled out the possibility of the balloons coming from the South, saying that both Seoul and the southern-based activists use cylindrical balloons, rather than spherical.

Lee Min-Bok, a North Korean defector-turned-activist,told AFP that cylindrical balloons made of plastic cost much less than round rubber ones.

"If the suspected balloons were spherical, then I suspect they were from North Korea", he said.

Tensions are high in the region over the nuclear-armed North's weapons ambitions.

South Korea has repeatedly accused the North of flying suspected spy drones across the tense border.


Updated Date: May 24, 2017 12:13 PM

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