South Korea’s military said it scrambled fighter jets after detecting about 180 North Korean military flights north of the two countries’ border.

 

Details

  • A per the South Korea’s military, North Korean aircraft flew north of the so-called tactical measure line, drawn to up 20 km north of the Military Demarcation Line.
  • South Korea scrambled 80 aircraft in response.
  • The manoeuvres came after North Korea fired more than 80 rounds of artillery into the sea overnight, and the launch of multiple missiles into the sea, including a possible failed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

 

Background

  • Since the beginning of the 20th century, Korea had been a part of the Japanese empire, and after World War II it fell to the Americans and the Soviets.
    • In other words, after WW II, USA and USSR were to decide what should be done with their enemy’s (Japan’s) imperial possessions.
  • In August 1945, Korean peninsula was divided in half along the 38th parallel. The Russians occupied the area north of the line and the United States occupied the area to its south.
  • In 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea, starting the three-year Korean War. As a result, American troops had entered the war on South Korea’s behalf.
    • As far as American officials were concerned, it was a war against the forces of international communism itself.
  • Finally, in July 1953, the Korean War came to an end by signing of the armistice agreement.
  • Since the signing of the armistice agreement, North and South Korea have been divided by a 4km wide demilitarised zone stretching 250km.

 

Efforts towards peace — ‘Panmunjom Declaration’

  • The leaders of North and South Korea, Kim Jong-Un and Moon Jae-in, met in the demilitarised zone between the two countries in April 2018.
  • The aim of this summit was to discuss the ‘denuclearisation’ of the Korean peninsula and the official end to the Korean War (1950-53) which has technically still not concluded.
  • Both the leaders signed the Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification on the Korean Peninsula.
  • In this declaration, both leaders agreed to —
    • work to remove all nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula and, within the year,
    • pursue talks with the United States to declare an official end to the Korean War, which ravaged the peninsula from 1950 to 1953.
  • The leaders also vowed to negotiate a treaty to replace a truce that has kept an uneasy peace on the divided Korean Peninsula for more than six decades.
  • However, the recent tension between the two, points towards the failure of this summit.

 

Reasons behind the escalation of recent tension

  • The escalation comes after North Korea warned against the recent joint military drills between the United States and South Korea.
  • Recently, the US and South Korea began their largest-ever joint drills, called Operation Vigilant Storm.
    • These drills have been launched during a period of national mourning in South Korea, following a deadly crowd surge in Seoul in which over 150 people died.
  • North Korea views these drills as provocative and a rehearsal for an invasion.
  • On the other hand, US and South Korean officials have maintained that the military exercises are defensive in nature and that they do not plan to attack North Korea.