South Korean Navy K1E1 tank fires during military exercise on Yeonpyeong Island, South Korea, on January 5, 2024.
This escalation in the Yellow Sea is one of the most serious since 2010, when the North bombed Yeonpyeong, killing four people, including two civilians. It comes after a volley of bellicose statements from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un who has threatened in recent days to annihilate South Korea and the United States.
The island of Yeonpyeong, approximately 2,000 inhabitants, is located 115 km west of Seoul and about ten kilometers south of the North Korean coast. Also very close to North Korea, Baengnyeong, population 4,900, is 210 km from Seoul.
The two Koreas are still technically at war since the end of the conflict in 1953 which ended with an armistice and not a peace treaty . For more than 70 years, the peninsula has experienced alternating periods of heightened tensions and relative relaxation.
Their relations are currently at their lowest point in decades.
North Korea has entered a phase of military confrontation, explains to AFP Cho Han-bum, researcher at the Korea Institute for National Unification.
She is not going to engage in explicit provocations as it did in Yeonpyeong, but will continue to aggravate military tensions while making the South responsible.
The x27;Last year, North Korea enshrined its status as a nuclear power in its Constitution and fired several intercontinental ballistic missiles, in violation of UN resolutions.
At the end of December, Kim Jong-un ordered the acceleration of military preparations for a war that could be launched at any time.