The South Korean military announced, "There is no longer a buffer zone between North and South Korea." What does this mean? What impact might it bring?

On January 8, according to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, Lee Seung-jun, the head of the Public Affairs Office at the Joint Chiefs of Staff of South Korea, stated in a press conference that North Korea has violated the “September 19 Military Agreement” signed by North and South Korea in 2018 more than 3,600 times and conducted artillery shelling in the western sea area for three consecutive days. Lee Seung-jun declared that as a result, the hostile action zone (buffer zone) will no longer exist. The South Korean military announced that there is no longer a buffer zone between North and South Korea.

Analysis of the South Korean Military Statement and Recent Developments in the Korean Peninsula

The South Korean military’s statement is merely a typical political demonstration, and there is no need for over-interpretation.

This demonstration is a response to North Korea’s shelling north of the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).

South Korea’s Lee Sung-jun stated that since 2018, North Korea has violated the September 19th Military Agreement over 3,800 times.

However, what he omitted is that South Korea’s violations of this agreement are likely even more numerous.

For instance, one of the agreement’s stipulations is to suspend military exercises within a certain range of the DMZ following its signing.

Yet, the recent joint military exercises by the US and South Korea were conducted around the DMZ.

Furthermore, this agreement was officially declared null by South Korean officials in November last year, citing North Korea’s use of a carrier rocket to launch a military satellite.

Thus, the agreement has essentially lost its practical significance. It became void the moment both North Korea and South Korea began violating it in practice.

Currently, South Korea is using North Korea’s breach of the agreement as a pretext to claim that there is no longer a buffer zone between the two nations. This excuse, used to deceive the people of both Koreas and to raise a moral flag, seems rather weak. Not to mention, it appears that the highly educated South Korean populace doesn’t have a strong ability to discern right from wrong in this context.

The intensity of the current confrontation between North and South Korea is not severe, especially when compared to incidents over the past decades, including the past dozen years.

For example, fourteen years ago, in November 2010, the US and South Korea conducted a military exercise.

At that time, North Korea warned South Korea, inquiring whether the exercise was an attack on them. They also warned that they would not tolerate US-South Korean fire in their territorial waters.

However, South Korean forces continued live-fire exercises near Baengnyeong Island and Yeonpyeong Island, under South Korean control.

Subsequently, North Korean coastal artillery units near Mu Island, along with the newly deployed 122mm guns in North Korea’s South Hwanghae Province, opened fire on Yeonpyeong Island.

The bombardment, which occurred in two waves, hit military barracks and the main settlement on the island, destroying many houses and shops and causing fires.

Compared to that incident fourteen years ago, the duration and extent of damage from this recent shelling are incomparable.

Moreover, the previous shelling caused significant casualties among South Koreans on Yeonpyeong Island.

Two Marines, Seo Jeong-woo (Staff Sergeant) and Moon Gwang-wook (Sergeant), were killed.

Six military personnel were severely injured, and ten suffered minor injuries. Two civilian construction workers, Kim Ji-baek, 61, and Bae Bok-chul, 60, also lost their lives in the shelling.

Most of the island’s residents were evacuated after the shelling. About 1,500 of the nearly 2,000 residents were transported to Incheon on fishing and government boats.

Following this, the Incheon city authorities dispatched 22 fire trucks and ambulances along with firefighters and medical personnel to aid in the island’s recovery and rescue efforts.

Two thousand boxes of emergency aid and 3,500 boxes of relief supplies and food were sent to assist the residents.

Since then, there have been many such shellings between North and South Korea, so the impact of this incident is not expected to be significant.

The recent 200 shells fired by North Korea landed north of the Northern Limit Line (NLL).

The NLL is the military demarcation line recognized by the US and South Korea.

The blue line in the upper image represents the NLL as determined by the US and South Korea. The shells fired by North Korea all fell north of this line, so there should be no issue.

The red line in the upper image is the military demarcation line as recognized by North Korea, known as the Southern Boundary Line.

The red circle in the lower image indicates the landing spots of North Korea’s recent shelling. These were near the boundary of the NLL, north of Yeonpyeong Island.

Therefore, Kim Jong-un’s order for the coastal artillery units to fire within North Korean territory was not intended to escalate the regional situation but rather to warn the US and South Korean military exercises.

The US and South Korean forces are conducting exercises in the area southwest of Cheorwon County. This region is where the Volunteer Army and the United Nations forces fought the Battle of Cheorwon during the war, at the junction of the eastern mountains and western plains of the Korean Peninsula, making it a critical strategic point.

I call for both North and South Korea to exercise restraint and firmly oppose any form of armed conflict on the Korean Peninsula.

Due to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the United States has already reduced its financial aid to Ukraine. Should a conflict arise between North and South Korea, South Korea will undoubtedly have to decrease its artillery exports to Ukraine and instead use them for defense against the North.

Whether the United States wins or not, Ukraine must win.


The Taiwan Strait median line is gone.

The Russia-Ukraine border has changed.

The “flip-flop army” dares to draw lines for the celestial army.

Even the demarcation line between North and South Korea is wavering.

Biden says,

None of this matters.

My approval rating is the most important.

There is indeed no buffer zone between North Korean artillery and Seoul. South Korean military, refuel and strive to obtain wartime command authority.

Tensions Escalate on the Korean Peninsula

On the 8th, Lee Seong-jun, Director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Public Affairs Office, stated that North Korea had violated the 919 Inter-Korean Military Agreement more than 3,600 times and had conducted artillery fire in the western sea area for three consecutive days. As a result, the hostile action zone will no longer exist, and the South Korean military will resume shooting and training activities in the maritime and land hostile action zones.

Both sides continue to take a hardline stance, potentially leading to further escalation of the situation.

On the 5th, North Korea fired over 200 coastal artillery shells towards the direction of the “Northern Boundary Line” established by the two Koreas in the north of Baengnyeong Island and Yeonpyeong Island, with most shells falling into the maritime buffer zone between North and South Korea.

On the 6th, according to information from the South Korean military, the North Korean People’s Army fired over 60 shells from coastal artillery positions in the northwest of Yeonpyeong Island, with some shells landing in the maritime buffer zone north of the “Northern Boundary Line” in the western sea area. The South Korean military did not consider this a threat, so they did not conduct live fire exercises in response.

On the 7th, Kim Yo-jong, Vice Department Director of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, pointed out that North Korea did not conduct artillery training on the 6th. What happened that day was merely the detonation of explosives simulating coastal artillery fire. This was done to observe South Korea’s reaction, and Kim Yo-jong also warned that even a small provocation from South Korea would result in immediate artillery fire from North Korean forces.

The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff subsequently countered by stating that North Korea’s claims were nothing more than a low-level psychological warfare aimed at testing South Korea’s detection capabilities and urged an immediate cessation of all military activities exacerbating tension in the border sea area.

According to reports from Yonhap News Agency, on the 6th, North Korea conducted two rounds of explosive detonations before and after firing shells, marking the first time such actions were taken by the North Korean military.

On the 7th, the South Korean military reported that the North Korean military fired nearly 90 shells towards the north of Yeonpyeong Island from 4:00 PM to 5:10 PM that day. Since South Korea did not suffer any losses, the South Korean military did not respond with counterfire.

The situation on the Korean Peninsula has been highly tense since the beginning of this year, largely influenced by changes in South Korea’s policy towards North Korea.

On January 1st, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol stated in his 2024 New Year’s address that in the first half of this year, they would complete the construction of an upgraded version of the U.S.-South Korea extended deterrence to block North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats at their source.

On the 4th, the South Korean Ministry of National Defense announced the conclusion of a 7-day U.S.-South Korea joint year-end exercise involving 110 weapons and equipment, including main battle tanks, armored vehicles, and wheeled infantry fighting vehicles, near the Korean Demilitarized Zone.

The South Korean Navy also deployed multiple destroyers, frigates, and missile boats to conduct naval artillery fire and maritime maneuver exercises in the waters surrounding the peninsula.

On the 5th, in a report released by the General Staff Department of the North Korean People’s Army, the concepts of “ethnicity” and “kinship” were removed. North-South relations were no longer regarded as relations between kin, but as relations between two completely hostile nations, two belligerent states at war.

During the previous South Korean government led by former President Moon Jae-in, inter-Korean relations had improved. In September 2018, the leaders of the two Koreas signed the Panmunjom Declaration, accompanied by the 919 Military Agreement. The purpose of this agreement was to eliminate the threat of the Korean War, end military hostilities, and achieve lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.

However, with Yoon Suk-yeol taking office, South Korea’s policy towards North Korea has shifted to a more confrontational stance. Yoon Suk-yeol has aligned himself closely with the United States and has shown strong support for Japan, while adopting a hostile attitude towards North Korea, even disregarding the traditional kinship ties.

Yoon Suk-yeol, a former technocrat, lacks experience in international diplomacy and seems unconcerned about the consequences of deteriorating relations between the two countries. He believes that South Korea is stronger than North Korea and has the support of the United States and Japan, and he is unyielding in tightening the screws.

Yoon Suk-yeol has also repeatedly commented on the Taiwan Strait, breaking the political understanding between China and South Korea.

With North Korea’s weaker national power, they have consistently resorted to escalation tactics to deter South Korea from harboring any hostile intentions. However, this time they have encountered Yoon Suk-yeol, who is determined not to back down and is steadfast in his political stance.

Tensions between North and South Korea are expected to intensify, and Northeast Asia is entering a state of quasi-warfare in 2024, making the world even more unstable.

Escalating Tensions and Geopolitical Shifts on the Korean Peninsula

  1. North Korea only pledged to redeploy its troops along the 38th parallel after joining a quasi-alliance with Russia. Russia has shared interests with China, and there is even a mutual assistance agreement between China and North Korea. Speculation about joint military exercises involving China, Russia, and North Korea this summer is not unfounded.

  2. South Korea declared that there is no buffer zone on the Korean Peninsula only after abandoning its neutral policy towards Beijing, reconciling with Japan (leading to the formation of the Japan-US-South Korea quasi-alliance), and normalizing the THAAD missile defense system. The pressure of inconsistent policies between the United States, Japan, and South Korea is evident. Every government since Eisenhower has had examples of this, with the most recent being during the Moon Jae-in-Trump era. However, Yoon Suk-yeol chose to align the steps of the United States, South Korea, and even Japan-US-South Korea in the same direction.

The formation of these two major camps is visible to the naked eye, but the current situation is completely different from 1950. The signs of an impending storm are evident, and it is hoped that all parties will not be drawn into it too quickly.

Escalating Tensions on the Korean Peninsula as Key Military Agreement Is Abandoned

In fact, the military buffer zone between North and South Korea had effectively ceased to exist long before, following South Korea’s voluntary termination of certain provisions of the “919 Military Agreement” after the Israel-Palestine conflict.

South Korea’s primary motive for terminating this agreement was to allow its reconnaissance aircraft to approach North Korea for better surveillance and early warning capabilities. By doing so, they aimed to closely monitor North Korea’s military activities and ensure they had enough reaction time. South Korea was concerned about the possibility of North Korea launching a sudden attack similar to Hamas' attacks on Israel. However, regardless of the existence of this military buffer zone, North Korea continued its military training and firing projectiles to designated areas.

After the complete termination of this agreement, there is a possibility that North Korean artillery or missiles may cross borders, as the geographical range of North Korean artillery and missile launches may shift closer to South Korea.

Therefore, with both sides abolishing the “919 Military Agreement,” tensions on the Korean Peninsula are once again on the rise.

Rising Tensions in South Korea: The Political Landscape and Geopolitical Concerns

Yoon Suk-yeol, as we all know, is a versatile political talent who can adapt to various situations in the political arena. Since taking office, he has pursued a pro-U.S. strategy, even going so far as to sing at the White House, while also engaging in a goodwill-style diplomacy with Japan to promote reconciliation between South Korea and Japan. At the same time, he has been actively fostering a sense of tension and opposition between North and South Korea. As a result of these actions, his approval rating has plummeted to around thirty percent.

During a recent period, Lee Jae-myung, who was assassinated, used his party’s dominant position in the National Assembly to engage in power struggles with the inspection system forces led by Yoon Suk-yeol. The partisan conflict reflects the division among the electorate.

South Korea is a nation with strong national identity, and the abrupt shift in national policies has left many people struggling to adapt. For instance, when Japan decided to release treated radioactive water into the ocean last year, public opinion in South Korea became sharply divided. Lee Jae-myung’s image as a man who went on a hunger strike to plead for the people garnered him significant support. However, his party is still mired in internal disputes over their stance.

With less than a hundred days left until the South Korean parliamentary elections, Lee Jae-myung was assassinated at this critical moment. The finger of blame points directly at the right-wing represented by Yoon Suk-yeol, the biggest beneficiary, and the opponents within Lee Jae-myung’s party. Yoon Suk-yeol’s government is under immense pressure. Just as North Korea offered assistance, Yoon Suk-yeol seized the opportunity, creating a momentary distraction from domestic issues.

Starting with Yoon Suk-yeol, this “political newcomer,” South Korea has shown troubling signs for East Asian countries, including China. If South Korea continues down this extreme path, ignoring all geopolitical concerns, the most likely action could be to join the United States in taking military action against the North, even with the knowledge that the North possesses “weapons of mass destruction,” in a bid to remove the burden weighing heavily on its conscience.

In the buffer zone established after the “peace talks” between the two Koreas, it is actually South Korea’s unilateral concession. In recent years, the North Korean military has violated the buffer zone not just once or twice, and I have seen reports of North Korean naval violations of the maritime border in the South Korean Navy’s combat room no less than twenty times. Even in such a situation, the South Korean Navy has shown great restraint by not firing a shot.

It’s like a rogue provocateur who provokes time and time again, even spitting on your face, and only when you pick up a beer bottle to give a warning, it turns into “provocation and disturbance.” Is there any logic in that?

The Uncertain Dynamics of the Korean Peninsula

I remember there doesn’t seem to be a clearly defined military buffer zone between North and South Korea, right?

There is, however, a demilitarized zone at the Korean border known as Panmunjom, but it’s more of a non-military area. If you insist on calling it a military buffer zone, then the 5-kilometer width of it is likely to be quite lonely.

As for the “September 19 Inter-Korean Military Agreement” signed between North and South Korea in 2018, neither side has adhered to it since signing.

For example:

Since 2018, North Korea has fired over 3,000 shells toward South Korea, many of which were empty rounds but carried a deterrent message.

South Korea is not blameless either; South Korean “civilian groups” and “religious organizations” continuously dropped leaflets and items into North Korean territory, leading to the destruction of over 400 South Korean drones by North Korean border forces.

It’s important to note that these two sides share the same ethnicity, but they lack trust in each other when it comes to complying with agreements.

As for the potential impact, there doesn’t seem to be much substantial influence. Both sides are evenly matched in terms of rhetoric.

North Korea in the north may have military might, but it lacks economic and logistical strength, with limited staying power.

South Korea in the south is well-equipped and economically prosperous but has a divided populace, albeit not openly hostile.

Therefore, there is reason to believe that it’s still uncertain who will emerge as the ultimate winner between the two sides.

Furthermore, once hostilities begin, the United States will enter the fray, activating the “U.S.-Japan Security Treaty.” U.S. troops stationed in South Korea will rush in, establishing a formidable defensive barrier in Japan.

Likewise, if Japan faces trouble, U.S. troops stationed in Japan will activate the “U.S.-South Korea Security Treaty,” creating a solid defense line in Busan.

With actions and reactions in place, there’s no room for a stalemate.

Both North and South Korea are well aware of each other’s vulnerabilities. Both nations are driven by nationalism and share the sentiment of being unafraid of external threats but deeply concerned about each other’s potential shortcomings.

This dynamic can have implications for the legitimacy of their respective governments.

The Prospects of the Korean Peninsula in a War Scenario

I won’t dwell on other issues; I’m only concerned about one question: in the event of a war on the Korean Peninsula, who stands to gain the most?

In my personal opinion, North Korea.

The reason is straightforward: North Korea has China backing it, and history has repeatedly shown that the stability and control of the Korean Peninsula are critical to China’s fate.

Over the past four centuries, there have been three decisive wars involving Korea: the Imjin War in 1592, the First Sino-Japanese War in 1894, and the Korean War in 1950.

Out of these, the Qing Dynasty lost one, and the Chinese nation almost couldn’t recover.

If a war breaks out on the Korean Peninsula, it won’t be a simple showdown between North and South Korea; it will engulf major players like a massive black hole.

The only instance in history of a military confrontation involving China, the United States, and the Soviet Union was on the Korean Peninsula.

Today, if hostilities erupt on the Korean Peninsula, at least six countries will be involved: China, the United States, Russia, North Korea, South Korea, and Japan.

Among these six countries, four possess nuclear weapons, and one has tested a nuclear device.

Compared to the potential impact of the Korean Peninsula, conflicts in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, or even the Taiwan Strait are relatively minor.

Even in a Taiwan scenario, at most, it would be a showdown between China and the United States or China and Japan.

In the face of such a six-country melee, what does South Korea’s conventional weapon advantage, which they often boast about, amount to?

In the global firepower index ranking, South Korea stands at sixth place, but what difference would it make?

I firmly believe that the situation on the Korean Peninsula is the trump card for China to weaken the U.S. military presence in the Western Pacific and reshape the balance in the region.

The logic is simple: the United States has no interest in initiating a war with North Korea. They fought a war there over 70 years ago, resulting in many casualties for the “UN forces,” and they still couldn’t capture North Korea.

Now, if they were to provoke again, how many “body bags” would the U.S. military prepare? It’s not even worth discussing unless it’s in the millions.

Only China truly has the motivation and capability to stir up the situation on the Korean Peninsula. Instead of engaging in “great power competition” with the United States or getting caught up in a needlepoint contest with the U.S. military, China can simply tip over the table for the entire Western Pacific if the United States stirs trouble in the South China Sea, Taiwan, or Japan.

Fearless of death, the U.S. military can try their luck once again on the Korean Peninsula!

The Prospects and Complexities of Korean Peninsula Unification

It’s a complete shift in the balance, and roles have reversed!

During the period of cooperation between the Nationalists and Communists in China, an instructor once posed a question: Who are our friends, and who are our enemies?

When it comes to the Korean Peninsula issue, this question expands into another: between North and South Korea, who truly desires unification?

For South Korea, especially among the left-wing, unification is their ultimate aspiration and a rallying cry in their campaigns.

For the right-wing in South Korea, despite benefiting from extreme economic growth driven by the chaebol system, South Korea has become a developed nation but faces one of the lowest birth rates in the world.

For South Korean elites, if unification could be achieved through absorption, the prospects would be incredibly enticing and magnificent:

If the Korean Peninsula were to unify, it would become a nation with nearly 80 million people, a GDP exceeding $2 trillion, possessing nuclear weapons, missiles, space launch capabilities, and rockets. Such power would command significant influence globally, with comprehensive national strength ranking at the forefront worldwide. While still third in the Far East, it would surpass the likes of the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Japan, and be on par with Russia. South Korea’s robust military, advanced technology research and development capabilities, thriving shipbuilding and semiconductor industries, along with North Korea’s formidable military and highly developed construction sector, disciplined and well-educated workforce, would result in a united peninsula with over 2 million military personnel, even if half were demilitarized, it would still be one of the largest military forces globally. Today in Europe, aside from Russia, few countries can match this military strength. In essence, it would be a dominant nation with significant financial resources, formidable military hardware, and nuclear capabilities. The strategically located Korean Peninsula would hold tremendous potential.

The undeveloped regions of North Korea offer an extremely low-cost labor force, a surplus of young workers, and a population with generally high education levels, boasting a 100% literacy rate and a high proportion of university-educated individuals. Once North Korea’s high-quality, low-cost labor combines with South Korea’s high-tech industries, it would undoubtedly become a crucial base for global technology manufacturing, offering immense developmental potential. Imagine the role such a nation would play on the world stage; for South Koreans, this is undoubtedly a sought-after future.

In the early years, due to the war, many families were separated on the Korean Peninsula. The desire for reunification was high on both sides.

In the 1970s, North Korea proposed its own unification model. In 1972, it introduced the Three Principles of National Reunification, and in 1980, it presented the idea of establishing the Democratic Federal Republic of Koryo, with the core concept being one country with two systems, a federal unification. At that time, Kim Il-sung even mentioned that after reunification, he would focus on academic pursuits and study philosophy at a university.

In 1980, North Korea wanted to co-host the Seoul Olympics with South Korea, building the magnificent May Day Stadium for this purpose. However, it was unsuccessful, and in 1989, North Korea held the Pyongyang World Festival as a response to South Korea.

In 1993, Kim Il-sung proposed the Ten-Point Programme for Reunification, which was the last time North Korea presented a systematic plan and policy document on reunification.

Subsequently, the discourse on reunification shifted to the South Korean side. Some suggested a two-Germany model, first imposing a reunification tax. On January 1, 2011, 12 lawmakers from ruling and opposition parties in South Korea submitted a bill to the National Assembly, allowing for the establishment of a “reunification tax.” The bill required companies to pay 0.05% of their corporate taxes, individuals to pay 5% of inheritance taxes or gift taxes, and both individuals and companies to contribute 2% of their income taxes to cover the cost of reunification.

However, as the older generation passed away, South Korea’s younger generation has become less attached to historical memories such as the Korean War and the issue of separated families in North Korea. About 50% of South Korean males in their twenties now consider North Korea as an absolute enemy, with no desire for any relationship.

Moreover, during Kim Il-sung’s era as the founding leader, he had no historical baggage and sought a historical legacy. Naturally, he desired reunification. However, in the era of Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-un, considering the issue of succession, it’s challenging for them to accept any reunification model other than a federal or confederal system.

Escalation of Tensions: North Korea Violates Military Agreements with South Korea

According to a report from Yonhap News Agency on January 8th, Lee Seung-jun, the head of the Public Affairs Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of South Korea, stated in a press conference that North Korea has violated the “September 19 Military Agreement” signed between North and South Korea in 2018 more than 3,600 times and conducted consecutive three days of artillery fire in the western sea area. As a result, the hostile behavior zone (buffer zone) will no longer exist.

As per reports, following North Korea’s announcement of the annulment of the military agreement, they carried out artillery fire in the western sea area for the past three days to demonstrate that the hostile behavior zone no longer exists. Consequently, the South Korean military will resume its shooting and training activities in the maritime and land-based hostile behavior zones.

According to the “September 19 Military Agreement,” North and South Korea established maritime buffer zones in the western and eastern seas of the Korean Peninsula, near the “Northern Limit Line,” prohibiting artillery fire and maneuvering exercises. Simultaneously, based on the military demarcation line, both North and South Korea designated areas 5 kilometers wide as buffer zones, prohibiting artillery fire and field maneuvering exercises by units larger than regimental level. On January 5th to 7th, North Korea fired shells towards the buffer zone near the “Northern Limit Line” in the western sea area, leading South Korea to resume its routine military exercises in the maritime and land-based buffer zones.

Regarding the question of whether the South Korean military will conduct regular shooting exercises in the maritime buffer zone, Lee Seung-jun responded that the South Korean military will not respond to each of North Korea’s military actions near the northwestern islands but will carry out shooting exercises according to their original plans.

Additionally, concerning North Korea’s claim that on the 6th, they detonated explosives instead of conducting artillery fire in the western sea area, Lee Seung-jun stated that the South Korean military can distinguish between the two, and based on the recent detections, they will announce the number and locations of artillery fire.

Korean Media: North Korea Conducts Three Consecutive Days of Artillery Shelling

As per previous reports in South Korean media, from January 5th to 7th, the North Korean military conducted three consecutive days of artillery shelling in the northernmost area of the western sea near the northwestern islands of South Korea.

On the 5th, North Korea fired more than 200 coastal artillery shells towards the direction of the “Northern Limit Line” established by North and South Korea in the area of Baengnyeong Island and Yeonpyeong Island. Most of the shells fell within the maritime buffer zone of North and South Korea, but some shells came close to 7 kilometers north of the “Northern Limit Line.” Evacuation orders were issued twice to local residents around Yeonpyeong Island and Baengnyeong Island that day. This marked the first coastal artillery firing exercise conducted by North Korea since December 6, 2022, in the area near Goseong, Gangwon Province, ending a 13-month hiatus.

The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff pointed out that the artillery shells landed in the buffer zone shared by both North and South Korea near the “Northern Limit Line,” and as a result, there were no casualties among South Korean citizens or the military.

The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff emphasized that North Korea had unilaterally nullified the “September 19 Inter-Korean Military Agreement” on November 23, 2023, and subsequently conducted artillery fire exercises in the western maritime buffer zone, which they view as provocative behavior that threatens peace on the Korean Peninsula and increases tension.

The maritime buffer zone between North and South Korea was established near the “Northern Limit Line” in the western and eastern seas of the Korean Peninsula in accordance with the “September 19 Inter-Korean Military Agreement” signed by both North and South Korea in 2018. Artillery fire and maritime maneuver exercises within this buffer zone violate the military agreement.

In response to North Korean maritime firing, the South Korean military carried out counter-shooting exercises on the northwestern islands. According to the South Korean military, the Navy’s 6th Brigade on Baengnyeong Island and the Yeonpyeong Unit on Yeonpyeong Island conducted maritime shooting exercises using K9 self-propelled howitzers and tank guns, starting at around 15:00 local time on the same day. This marks the first time since the signing of the Inter-Korean Military Agreement on September 19, 2018, that South Korean forces have dispatched Marine Corps units deployed on the northwestern islands for maritime shooting exercises.

On the 6th, according to information released by the South Korean military, the Korean People’s Army conducted more than 60 rounds of artillery fire near the northwestern coast of Yeonpyeong Island. Some of the shells fell into the maritime buffer zone north of the “Northern Limit Line” in the western sea area. As the direction of the artillery fire on that day was aimed at the North Korean side, away from South Korean islands and the northern inland area, the South Korean military did not consider it a threat and did not respond with live-fire exercises.

North Korea Denies Artillery Fire on January 6th, Claims Explosives Detonation

In response to this, Kim Yo-jong, Vice Department Director of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, denied allegations of artillery provocations on January 6th, stating that they had detonated explosives to create the sound of simulated artillery shells exploding. The North Korean Central Television also aired footage of North Korean military personnel detonating explosives while reporting Kim Yo-jong’s remarks. Kim Yo-jong warned that even if South Korea provokes in any small way, the North Korean military will immediately give them a “baptism of fire.”

On January 7th, the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff stated that Kim Yo-jong’s statement is merely a “low-level psychological warfare” regarding the South Korean military’s detection capabilities. If North Korea launches provocations against South Korean territory and national security, the South Korean military will respond firmly based on the principles of “immediate, strong, and resolute countermeasures.”

On the 7th, the South Korean military released another statement, stating that the North Korean military fired nearly 90 artillery shells towards the north of Yeonpyeong Island in the afternoon, between 4:00 PM and 5:10 PM. Since there were no casualties or damage reported on the South Korean side, the South Korean military did not respond with live-fire exercises. The Korean Central News Agency of North Korea stated that the southwestern coastal defense unit of the Korean People’s Army conducted live-fire exercises in four target areas in the southwestern sea area. The exercise involved 23 coastal artillery pieces, firing 88 artillery shells. In terms of the direction of fire, “this live-fire exercise area is unrelated to the military demarcation line and does not pose a threat to any hostile country.”

North and South Korea Dispute the Border in the Western Sea

North and South Korea have long disputed the border in the western sea of the Korean Peninsula. South Korea designated a maritime boundary known as the “Northern Limit Line” between the “West Sea Five Islands,” including Yeonpyeong Island, and the west coast of North Korea, a demarcation that North Korea does not recognize. North Korea declared a maritime military demarcation line in 1999, which is further south than South Korea’s claimed “Northern Limit Line,” a claim that South Korea also does not accept.

North Korean Military Report: Removal of “Ethnicity” and “Same Ethnicity” Concepts

Since the beginning of 2024, tensions on the Korean Peninsula have escalated significantly. In a report released by the General Staff of the North Korean People’s Army on the 5th, the concepts of “ethnicity” and “same ethnicity” have been removed. South Korean media suggests that this statement from the North Korean military is in line with the recent change in North Korea’s “approach towards South Korea” mentioned by Kim Jong-un at the beginning of the new year.

Korean Netizen’s Comments on Military Tensions

Alright, let’s get into it. I want to watch the Yeonpyeong Island artillery duel again. Many South Koreans are boasting about their K9 howitzers, but I’m not convinced. It’s clear that North Korea won that battle in the past.

Let’s have another round, a decisive showdown.

And North Korea’s frogmen are definitely superior to South Korea’s. I refuse to believe that the Cheonan warship sank by itself.

Go, North Korea, I have faith in you. The Juche artillery will prevail in any battle, and the K9’s pretentiousness will be exposed. North Korea’s navy is also the best on the peninsula. Despite having outdated equipment, they are well-trained, determined, and ready to fight. Sink another Cheonan warship to showcase your military might. South Korea’s navy is all talk and no action, they are just for show, lacking proper training and combat capabilities.

I believe that whether it’s stone or metal, it will be crushed because the “Juche ideology is invincible.”

Let’s go!

The South Korean military announced that everything can be regarded as mere formality, and will respond based on what the United States says.