Five North Korean drones flew across the demilitarized zone (DMZ), the first violation of South Korea’s airspace in five years, officials said, according to The Associated Press. One drone was detected as far south as the northern edge of South Korea’s capital Seoul, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
The South Korean military fired warning shots and scrambled fighter jets and attack helicopters after detecting the North Korean drones. The helicopters fired more than 100 rounds at the drones, but officials did not immediately know if any drones were shot down, the AP reported.
During the South Korean response, a KA-1 attack plane crashed shortly after taking off, but both pilots ejected from the plane safely. South Korea’s Defense Ministry said there were no reports of damage to civilian property after the incident.
Two South Korean airports delayed any planes from taking off for nearly an hour as South Korea’s military responded to the North’s drone incursion. According to the Joint Chiefs, South Korea also responded by sending its own surveillance planes into North Korea to photograph North Korean military facilities.
“Our military will thoroughly and resolutely respond to this kind of North Korean provocation,” Maj. Gen. Lee Seung-o, director of operations at the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff, said after the incident.
The latest provocation from North Korea comes nearly three months after the totalitarian country fired a ballistic missile over Japan. The intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) forced Japan to issue a warning for residents to take cover. The missile reportedly continued above the northern part of Japan before crashing into the Pacific Ocean. In response to North Korea’s nuclear stunt, the U.S. and South Korea fired surface-to-surface missiles into the ocean.
The allied countries continued their show of force last month with a joint air training after North Korea conducted more ballistic missile launches. The U.S. Air Force flew B-1B strategic bombers and F-16s alongside South Korean F-35s that were purchased from the U.S.