SKorea Announces Major Security Response After NKorea’s Balloon Stunt

( – South Korea suspended a military agreement with its northern neighbor after the latter sent balloons carrying trash over the border. The inter-Korean military pact of 2018 reduced troop numbers at the border and was generally respected until North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong Un said he would no longer follow it last year. It agreed neither country would conduct military drills near the boundary and “cease all hostile acts.”

The South Korean government’s National Security Council now said the pact is suspended after the north’s regime apparently deployed roughly 3,500 balloons, which dropped around 15 tons of garbage on the southern side. North Korea said the stunt was a retaliatory strike in response to the distribution of anti-North Korean literature by South Korean activists.

The agreement’s suspension means that South Korea can once again conduct drills near the barrier and prepare responses to what it called North Korean provocations. It comes immediately after North Korea launched a new round of missile tests off its eastern coast, accompanied by menacing threats toward the south.

The missile display also increased tensions with Japan, where Okinawa residents took cover, believing they were under attack. Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, however, said the rockets landed outside his country’s designated territory and caused no damage. Nevertheless, Mr. Kishida “strongly” condemned the exercise and declared North Korea in breach of several UN Security Council resolutions.

South Korean officials said North Korea’s missile display served two purposes – a power show and an advertisement of weapons for sale. International observers believe Kim Jong Un is providing munitions to Russia and that debris in Kyiv proves it. Russian President Vladimir Putin denies this but has deepened his ties with the secretive and isolated state since the conflict with Ukraine erupted in 2022.

In May, to mark the 79th anniversary of the end of World War II, Kim issued a statement expressing his “firm support and solidarity” with Vladimir Putin and the “sacred cause of Russia.”

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