By Jung Sung-ki
South Korea's Navy fired warning shots to drive away a North Korean fishing vessel that crossed the tense maritime border in the West Sea, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said Wednesday.
Ten shots were fired as a warning after repeated loudspeaker broadcasts ordered the North Korean vessel to retreat, said a JCS spokesman said.
It was not clear why the vessel crossed the Northern Limit Line (NLL) in the early morning and why it remained in southern waters for nearly two hours, the officer said.
“The North Korean boat returned north of the NLL as of 9:57 a.m., and there have been no other unusual activities by the North's military,” he told reporters.
Ties between the two Koreas sank to their lowest level in decades after a South Korean warship was torpedoed in the same area off the west coast in March, killing 46 sailors.
Seoul accuses the North for the attack but Pyongyang denies it.
North Korea disputes the sea border which was drawn up by the United Nations Command at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.
The waters off the west coast have been the scene of deadly naval skirmishes in the past that have resulted in the deaths of sailors on both sides.
The Seoul government is bracing for any possible North Korean moves to sabotage next week's Group of 20 summit of leading wealthy and developing countries.
The North has a track record of making provocations during times when world attention is focused on Seoul.
In 1987, a year before Seoul hosted the Summer Olympics, North Korean agents planted a bomb on a South Korean plane, killing all 115 people on board. In 2002, when South Korea jointly hosted soccer's World Cup along with Japan, a North Korean naval boat sank a South Korean patrol vessel near the sea border.