Suspected North Korean balloons reportedly in South Korean airspace

South Korea’s military said a suspected North Korean balloon briefly entered its airspace on Sunday.

South Korea’s defense ministry said on Monday South Korean forces responded to the incident with “unspecified measures” but later concluded the balloons posed no threat, Reuters report.

KBS report A front-line unit spotted the balloon through a thermal monitoring device near the north-south border in Yeoncheon, Gyeonggi Province, at 6:30 pm (local time) on Sunday, according to an unnamed military official.

Officials said the balloon was two meters long and was flying at a low altitude. A few hours later, it left South Korean airspace.

Officials said they decided not to take military action because they identified it as a weather balloon. North Korea’s official mouthpiece did not release a statement on the incident.

This was just two days after the United States shot down a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that was drifting eastward into the Atlantic Ocean.

Secretary of State Anthony Brinken has indefinitely postponed a high-altitude balloon visit to China.

North Korea demands ‘perfect’ war preparations

Tensions between the two Koreas have increased since North Korea conducted a missile test last year.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un presided over a meeting of the Central Military Commission on Monday, which focused on the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA)’s “major military and political tasks” this year. report.

According to KCNA, the committee discussed “the issue of constantly expanding and strengthening the operations and combat training of the Korean People’s Army in order to cope with the current situation and more closely perfect its readiness for war.”

The Korean People’s Army is the armed wing of the ruling Workers’ Party.

An intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is launched in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on November 19, 2022.
An intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is launched in this undated photo released on November 19, 2022. (KCNA via Reuters)

North Korea called the talks after pledging to meet the US military with “the most overwhelming nuclear force”. This was in response to US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s pledge to deploy more military assets to defend South Korea.

In a statement carried by KCNA, North Korea’s foreign ministry said the expansion of joint US military exercises with South Korea had pushed the security situation on the Korean peninsula to an “extreme red line” and had made the region a “huge red line.” “It’s turning into a war arsenal,” he said.

The North Korean military said it would retaliate against any military action based on the principle of “nuclear for nuclear, total confrontation for total confrontation.”

“If the United States continues to introduce strategic assets into the Korean Peninsula and surrounding areas, North Korea will certainly articulate its deterrence activities according to their nature,” said North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. added using the acronym of Korean.

US to defend South Korea with nuclear forces

About 28,500 US troops are stationed in South Korea, making it one of the largest US military deployments in the world. Austin said the US will deploy F-22 and his F-35 aircraft, as well as the Ronald Reagan carrier strike group, to participate in joint exercises with South Korea.

Brinken said on February 3 that the United States remains committed to using all its military capabilities, including nuclear weapons, to defend South Korea from North Korean aggression.

He called the US-South Korea alliance “the linchpin” of peace in the region and said he sought to strengthen trilateral security cooperation with Japan to deter North Korea’s provocations.

Epoch Times photo
US Secretary of State Anthony Brinken shakes hands with South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin at the end of an event at the State Department in Washington on February 3, 2023. Brinken canceled a planned diplomatic trip to China because of an incident involving Chinese surveillance. Balloons spotted in US airspace. (Wynn McNamee/Getty Images)

“We are committed to defending the Republic of Korea with all our capabilities – nuclear, conventional and missile defense,” Blinken told reporters in Washington.

“Therefore, there is no doubt about our commitment to protect our allies, partners and friends, including North Korea, and to extend deterrence,” he said. Pyongyang is the capital of North Korea.

South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin also called on North Korea’s main ally, the Communist Party of China (CCP), to use its influence to curb North Korea’s missile launches.

“We agreed that China has a clear capacity and responsibility to influence North Korea’s actions. I need to,” he said.

North Korea has reportedly launched an unprecedented number of missiles in 2022, one of which flew over Japan, warning citizens of Hokkaido and Aomori prefectures to evacuate.

In August 2022, South Korean leader Yoon Seok-yeol offered North Korea economic benefits in exchange for steps to denuclearize, but the offer was rejected. Kim said there will be no denuclearization talks, talks or “bargaining chips” in the process.