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.
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