News and Commentary

North Korea Reportedly Opens Fire On South Korean Guard Post At DMZ
South Korean soldiers stand guard at a guard post near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) dividing two Koreas in the border city of Paju on August 11, 2017. As nuclear-armed North Korea's missile stand-off with the US escalates, calls are mounting in the South for Seoul to build nuclear weapons of its own to defend itself -- which would complicate the situation even further.
JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images

North Korea reportedly opened fire on a South Korean guard post in the demilitarized zone on Saturday night, prompting South Korea to fire back.

“Gunshots fired from North Korea struck a guard post in South Korea on Sunday inside the Demilitarized Zone separating the two countries, and South Korean soldiers fired back, the South’s military said,” The New York Times reported. “The South said it was contacting the North through a military hotline to prevent the situation from escalating. It remained unclear why the North fired the shots.”

Reuters reported that multiple shots were fired at approximately 7:41 a.m. and noted that there were no injuries reported.

The exchange happened after North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un reportedly was seen by the public for the first time in nearly a month.

“The two Koreas had previously exchanged fire within the heavily-fortified DMZ, including in 2014 when Kim was unseen in public for more than a month,” Bloomberg News reported. “Hundreds of thousands of troops on both sides of the border guard the DMZ that bisects the peninsula, a legacy of the 1950-53 war that ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty.”

Speculation about Kim’s health broke out a couple of weeks ago when CNN reported:

The US is monitoring intelligence that suggests North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, is in grave danger after undergoing a previous surgery, according to a US official with direct knowledge.

A second source familiar with the intelligence told CNN that the US has been closely monitoring reports on Kim’s health.

Kim recently missed the celebration of his grandfather’s birthday on April 15, which raised speculation about his well-being. He had been seen four days before that at a government meeting.

Another US official told CNN Monday that the concerns about Kim’s health are credible but the severity is hard to assess.

There had been varying reports on Kim’s disappearance that ranged from reports that he was having serious health problems to he was isolating himself from the rest of the country to protect himself from a rumored coronavirus outbreak in the country.

Whatever the situation was, Kim was reportedly seen on Friday walking around a factory near the country’s capital city.

The Wall Street Journal reported:

Mr. Kim, all in black and wearing no face mask, was shown cutting a red ribbon at a fertilizer plant in Sunchon, about 30 miles north of Pyongyang. He was flanked by aides, including his sister, Kim Yo Jong. In another image the 36-year-old Mr. Kim sat on a podium in front of a large sign displaying the factory’s name and the date May 1, 2020.

Close Pyongyang watchers said the photos appeared authentic, and that they hoped to see video for further confirmation of Mr. Kim’s health. That came later Saturday, when the official Korean Central Television network showed footage of the visit, featuring Mr. Kim walking without major impairment—as well as a shot of him seated, a cigarette in hand.

This is a breaking news story, refresh the page for updates.

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