North Korea patrol ship ‘violates’ South Korea’s maritime border
(26 February 2014)
The South Korean defence ministry has reported that a North Korean patrol ship has repeatedly crossed the disputed Yellow Sea maritime border with South Korea. Reports claim that the North Korean vessel reached two nautical miles inside South Korea’s territorial waters, and within 15 miles of South Korea’s border island of Baengnyeong.
The vessel crossed the Northern Limit Line (NLL), which South Korea considers the maritime border between the two nations. The NLL was unilaterally drawn by the US-led United Nations Command at the end of the 1950-1953 Korean War, yet North Korea does not officially recognise the NLL and demands that the inter-Korean maritime demarcation line be positioned further south.
South Korea’s defence ministry spokesman Kim Min-Seok stated, “The North Korean ship’s NLL violation is seen as part of military drills. It is believed that [the ship] intended to test the South Korean military”. He further comments, “We suspect this is aimed at testing our military preparedness”, as the vessel had “intentionally violated” the maritime border.
The incident occurred on the first day of joint military drills between the United States and South Korea, which are one of the largest military exercises conducted by the two countries, with approximately 200,000 troops from both countries taking part. Pyongyang is reportedly opposed to the military drills, previously condemning them as “exercises of war”. The annual “Key Resolve” and “Foal Eagle” drills are scheduled to last until 18th April 2014.
The disputed maritime boundary remains a contentious issue between the two nations and has been the scene of previous naval clashes in 1999, 2002 and 2009. In 2010, South Korea indicated that North Korea had torpedoed a South Korean warship near Baengnyeong, leaving 46 sailors dead. Pyongyang strongly denies this claim.
“N. Korea patrol ship crosses disputed sea border with S. Korea”, Global Post, 24th February 2014. http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/kyodo-news-international/140224/n-korea-patrol-ship-crosses-disputed-sea-border-s-kore.
“North Korea’s patrol vessel sparks alarm on South Korea border amid military drill”, Vasudevan Sridharan, International Business Times UK, 25th February 2014. http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/north-koreas-patrol-vessel-sparks-alarm-south-korea-border-amid-military-drill-1437757.
“North Korea patrol boat ‘violated’ maritime border”, Times of India, 25th February 2014. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/North-Korea-patrol-boat-violated-maritime-border/articleshow/30996291.cms.
“North Korea ‘violates’ sea border with South amid drills”, BBC News, 25th February 2014. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-26333574.