Reader Comments

Pompeo says shots fired by North Korea were accidental' 

by Lovie McKerihan (2020-05-13)


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said shots fired Sunday from North Korea towards the South across their border were 'accidental.' 

'Handful of shots came across from the north, we think those were accidental,' he told ABC's 'This Week.' 'South Koreans did return fire. There was no loss of life on either side,' he added. 

Gunfire broke out between the two nations when North Korea fired a series of shots towards a guard post in South Korea that borders the North at 7.41am Sunday local time, the South's Joint Chiefs of Staffs said. The gunfire prompted South Korea to return fire across the Demilitarized Zone.

The JCS in Seoul said in a statement today that the guard post was hit by several shots from the North. 

The rare exchange of gunfire comes a day after North Korean state media reported that leader Kim Jong-un had made his first public appearance in nearly three weeks following an absence that triggered intense speculation about his health and fears about the stability of the isolated nation. 

Reports around the world speculated if Kim Jong-un had died during a medical procedure. 

South Korea responded by firing two shots back towards North Korea, the JCS said.








North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on May 1 when he resurfaced following reports he had died. North Korea has fired multiple gunshots towards South Korea, the South's Joint Chiefs of Staffs said in a statement







Military guard posts of North Korea (rear) and South Korea (bottom) are seen in Paju, at the border with North Korea, South Korea, tour thác bản giốc today 










The South is taking action to try to 'grasp the detailed situation', it said.

'We are taking actions via inter-Korean communication lines to grasp the detailed situation and to prevent any further incidents,' the JCS statement read.

'And we also maintain a necessary readiness posture.'  

It is not clear why the gunfire erupted, but no injuries have been reported on either side.

'Our military responded with two rounds of gunfire and a warning announcement,' the JCS said.

The South Korean military later said the North Korean gunshots were 'not deemed intentional', according to the Yonhap news agency. 

In a lengthy briefing held later on Sunday, an official at South Korea's JCS said the gunshots did not seem a planned provocation, as the area where it ocurred was farmland, but declined to provide a clear conclusion about the incident.

'In absence of vision [for the target] and in the fog, would there be an accurate provocation?' the official said.






South Korean army soldiers patrolling along the barbed-wire fence in Paju, South Korea, near the border with North Korea last December. Today there was an exchange of fire at the border







A North Korean flag fluttering in the wind at a military guard post in Paju, at the border with North Korea, today


But Choi Kang, vice president of the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, said he believed the timing of the 'grey area' provocation shows it could been planned to show that Kim was still in charge of the North Korean military.

'Yesterday, Kim was trying to show he is perfectly healthy, and today, Kim is trying to mute all kinds of speculation that he may not have full control over the military,' Choi said.

'Rather than going all the way by firing missiles and supervising a missile launch, Kim could be reminding us, ''yes I'm healthy and I'm still in power''.' 

The two neighbours regularly open fire on each other and technically remain in a constant state of war after the Korean War ended in a truce in 1953, but not a peace treaty

Despite its name, the Demilitarized Zone is one of the most fortified places on earth, replete with minefields and barbed-wire fences.

Both sides have troops poised along the 155-mile border ready to open fire on the other side at any point.






RELATED ARTICLES


Previous

1

2

Next




Trump celebrates Kim Jong Un's apparent return to public eye... Operations Plan 5029: The US military's secret 'Mission... 'Kim's condition has been upgraded to 'alive!': Internet... Has Kim Jong-un had heart surgery? Medical experts say...

'I cannot just talk about him right now': Donald Trump... North Korean defector says he is '99% sure' Kim Jong Un is... 'Canadians need more than thoughts and prayers': Prime...




Share this article

Share

293 shares



Easing military tensions on their border was one of the agreements reached between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in at a summit in Pyongyang in September 2018.

But most of the deals have not been acted on by North Korea, with Pyongyang largely cutting off contact with Seoul.

North Korea's discussions with the United States over Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal are also at a standstill, despite three meetings between Kim and US President Donald Trump.

Increased tensions between the two nations comes as Kim Jong-un was seen for the first time in three weeks on Friday. 

Speculation concerning the controversial leader's health began to gain momentum after he failed to turn up at the celebration of his grandfather's birthday on April 13, one of the country's biggest calendar events. 






A watch tower in North Korea pictured in 2017: A series of gunshots were fired from North Korea at 7:41 am local time towards a guard post in South Korea that borders the North, the JCS said







North Korea soldiers near the border in 2017: South Korea responded by firing two shots back towards North Korea, the JCS said


Rumors and reports grew that he had died.  

But North Korea's supreme leader then emerged alive, as he was pictured cutting the ribbon at the opening of a fertiliser factory Friday.

He 'attended the ceremony' at the Sunchon Phosphatic Fertiliser Factory on Friday and 'all the participants broke into thunderous cheers of 'hurrah!'' when he appeared, the Korean Central News Agency said. 

The dictator was seen smiling and talking to aides at the ceremony and also touring the plant, but the authenticity of the photos could not be verified.

The uncertainty around the peace process would have increased had Kim been incapacitated or dead as rumoured in recent weeks. 

He was accompanied by several senior North Korean officials including his younger sister Kim Yo Jong, Korean Central News Agency said.

There continues to be speculation over why he has not been seen in such a long time, including that he had complications after heart surgery or was suffering from the coronavirus. 






South Korean soldiers patrol along a barbed wire fence in the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea


According to medical experts who viewed footage of the dictator's return, Kim Jong-un's wrist suggests he could have had heart surgery. 

US-funded NK News reported that marks on Kim's arms show he has had a 'cardiovascular procedure'. 

What appeared to be needle marks could be seen on his wrists while he rode in a golf cart that looked a lot like the one he used in 2014, when he returned to the public eye with a cane after some time away.

Kim has not been seen with marks on his wrists before. 

Ewha University international affairs professor Leif-Eric Easley in Seoul said the shooting incident could be aimed at boosting morale in the North Korean military.

'The Kim regime may be looking to raise morale of its frontline troops and to regain any negotiating leverage lost during the rumor-filled weeks of the leader's absence,' said Easley.

'South Korea and the United States should not take lightly such North Korean violations of existing military agreements.'

President Donald Trump celebrated the dictator's apparent return to the public eye in a social media post Saturday, stating he is glad to see him back in good health after rumors he had died.

The president retweeted pictures of Kim at the fertilizer factory and wrote: 'I, for one, am glad to see he is back, and well!' 

It is unclear whether the White House has authenticated the pictures released by North Korean state media. 

Before Kim's reappearance, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last month that he remained hopeful a nuclear deal could be clinched with North Korea.

'Regardless of what transpires inside of North Korea with respect to their leadership, our mission remains the same - to deliver on that commitment that Chairman Kim made with President Trump...[the] verified denuclearisation of North Korea,' Pompeo told reporters.

'We are still hopeful that we'll find a path to negotiate that solution to get the outcome that is good for the American people, good for the North Korean people and for the whole world.'



 




Has Kim Jong-un had heart surgery? Medical experts say 'needle' marks on his arms in newly released pictures could hint at procedure

ByEmer Scully For Mailonline

Marks on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's wrist suggests he could have had heart surgery, say medical experts.

The despot made his first alleged public appearance for 20 days yesterday when he cut the ribbon at the opening of a fertiliser factory in Sunchon, according to state media.

Medical experts have assessed video footage of the visit and claim marks on Kim's arms show he has had a 'cardiovascular procedure', US-funded NK News reported. 

The dictator was seen smiling and talking to aides at the ceremony and also touring the plant, but the authenticity of the photos could not be verified.

He was accompanied by several senior North Korean officials including his younger sister Kim Yo Jong, Korean Central News Agency said.








Medical experts have assessed video footage of the visit and claim marks on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's arms (pictured) show he has had a 'cardiovascular procedure', US-funded NK News reported







When Kim last appeared in public on April 11 (pictured) he did not have any marks on his wrists


What appeared to be needle marks could be seen on his wrists while he rode in a golf cart that looked a lot like the one he used in 2014, when he returned to the public eye with a cane after some time away. 

Asked about the KCNA report, US President Donald Trump said: 'I'd rather not comment on it yet. We'll have something to say about it at the appropriate time.' 

Speculation about Kim's health has been rife after he missed the birth anniversary celebrations of state founder Kim Il Sung on April 15.

The day is a major holiday in North Korea and Kim as leader usually pays a visit to the mausoleum where his grandfather lies in state.

He last made a public appearance on April 11 attending a meeting of the ruling Workers' Party politburo.

Kim has not been seen with marks on his wrists before.  

Following his absence from the anniversary, a South Korean news outlet specialising on the North reported Kim was recovering after undergoing a cardiovascular procedure.






The despot (pictured with his younger sister Kim Yo Jong) cut the ribbon at the opening of a fertiliser factory in Sunchon, state media reported, and released pictures supposedly showing the event














A flurry of other unconfirmed reports about his condition and his whereabouts followed including from vice director of Hong Kong Satellite Television Shijian Xingzou who claimed he was dead. Officials in South Korea and the US were sceptical.

The former top US diplomat for East Asia Daniel Russel said the pieces of the puzzle of Kim's disappearance would take time to assemble.

His reappearance showed authoritative information about the well-being and whereabouts of a North Korean leader were very closely guarded, and rumours about him needed to be regarded with considerable skepticism, Russel said.

The rumours had, however, served to focus attention on North Korea's succession plan, which 'in a monarchical and cult-like dictatorship is filled with risk, and tour thác bản giốc the absence of a designated adult heir compounds that risk many times over,' Russel said.

Earlier, a source familiar with US intelligence analyses and reporting said US agencies believed Kim was not ill and remained very much in power.

'We think he's still in charge,' the source said on condition of anonymity. The source could not immediately confirm the KCNA report. The State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.






Kim 'attended the ceremony' on Friday and 'all participants broke into thunderous cheers of 'hurrah!' when he appeared, the Korean Central News Agency said. Pictured is an image shared by the agency on Saturday














South Korean Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul, who oversees engagement with Pyongyang, said it was plausible Kim was absent as a precaution over the coronavirus pandemic, in view of the stringent steps taken to head off an outbreak in the country.

Harry Kazianis, senior director of Korean studies at the Center for the National Interest think tank in Washington, said this still could be the case.

He said: 'The most likely explanation for Kim's absence is with North Korea declaring the coronavirus pandemic an existential threat... he most likely was taking steps to ensure his health or may have been impacted in some way personally by the virus.'

In his appearance at the fertiliser factory, Kim expressed satisfaction about the production system and said the plant made a significant contribution to the progress of the country's chemical industry and food production, KCNA said.


Memes surfaced across social media in the West today in response to the report that the dictator has been out and about.






This image released by Korean Central News Agency supposedly shows Kim Jong-un (centre) attending the ceremony next to his sister (pictured third from left) and other senior officials on Friday







This picture from state media supposedly shows the mass celebrations as Kim opened the fertiliser factory in Sunchon


One said 'Kim Jong-un with the best comeback of 2020', while another posted a picture comparing the dictator to the wrestler the Undertaker. A man wrote 'so Kim Jong-un is alive and well' above a picture of Spiderman looking unsure.