North and South Korea conduct provocative military drills along their sea boundary

North and South Korea conducted drills involving firing artillery rounds into the sea along their disputed sea border, escalating tensions and breaking the fragile 2018 inter-Korean agreement.

Conduct of Drills: Reports indicate that both North and South Korea conducted provocative military drills near their sea border.
* South Korean officials reported that North Korea fired more than 200 rounds into the water north of the sea boundary, marking North Korea’s first front-line maritime firing exercise in about a year.
* South Korea’s troops on two border islands fired artillery rounds south of the sea boundary later in response.

Escalating Tensions: These military actions threaten the already fragile peace and have sparked concerns about a potential escalation.
* The 2018 agreement between the two Koreas to halt live-fire exercises and aerial surveillance along their border is nearing a collapse, with both nations breaching the pact following bickering over North Korea’s first successful military spy satellite launch.
* The areas around the poorly marked western sea boundary have witnessed bloody naval clashes in the past, making the situation even more precarious.

Impact of the Stalled 2018 Accord: The ongoing dispute between the two nations is leading to a disregard for the 2018 agreement.
* South Korea has accused North Korea of breaching the pact several times with firing drills in the buffer zones.
* North Korea has stated that it will no longer abide by the 2018 deal after South Korea resumed front-line aerial surveillance in protest of the North’s satellite launch.

Future Outlook: Experts are predicting further escalations and violations.
* In a recent meeting, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un encouraged the military to use all means, including nuclear weapons, to conquer South Korea in the event of a conflict.
* It’s expected that North Korea will increase provocation activities, with anticipations of small and large provocations along the western sea boundary and land border throughout the year.
View original article on NPR
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