South Korea says the North has again fired artillery shells near their sea border

North Korea has conducted another round of artillery drills near the disputed sea boundary with South Korea, according to officials in Seoul.

Background: The firing exercises were a follow-up to similar drills conducted by North Korea, which had led South Korea to respond with its own firing exercises.
* These actions violate a 2018 inter-Korean agreement meant to ease front-line military tensions.
* Rising animosities over North Korea’s first military spy satellite launch in November have further compromised the agreement.

Latest developments: South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff reported that North Korea fired more than 60 rounds near the western sea boundary on Saturday.
* South Korea strongly urged North Korea to stop actions that escalate tensions and warned it will respond decisively to any provocations.
* It’s not specified if South Korea will respond with its own drills.

Context: These exercises come after calls from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for increased war readiness.
* Kim has instructed the military to use all available means, including nuclear weapons, in the event of a conflict.

Historic Tensions: The western sea boundary between the Koreas has been a site of previous conflicts.
* Naval skirmishes occurred in 1999, 2002, and 2009.
* In March 2010, North Korea’s alleged torpedoing of a South Korean warship led to the death of 46 South Korean sailors.
* An artillery bombardment by North Korea on Yeonpyeong Island in November 2010 resulted in four South Korean deaths.
View original article on NPR
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