Kim Jong Un west sea firing
Rodong Sinmun reported on Nov. 25 that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited a coastal artillery base in Changrin-do. / Image: Rodong Sinmun

North Korea’s recent artillery drill in the West Sea was aimed at commemorating the nine-year anniversary of North Korea’s shelling of Yongpyong Island in 2010, Daily NK’s sources in the North Korean military confirmed yesterday.

According to South Korea’s defense ministry, the firing of the coastal artillery shells occurred on Nov. 23 on Changrin Island, which is in Ongjin County, North Korea.

KIM JONG UN OBSERVES ARTILLERY FIRING

According to Daily NK’s military sources, North Korean Kim Jong Un arrived at the coastal artillery base at 9 AM and the shelling commenced from 10:30 AM on Nov. 23. The Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) and other North Korean media outlets reported Kim’s visit to the coastal artillery base was not preplanned.

Daily NK’s North Korean military sources pointed out, however, that the coastal artillery shells were fired after soon after Kim’s arrival and also the fact that Nov. 23 is the ninth anniversary of the Yongpyong Island shelling.

The sources also reported that North Korea shot off 45 shells, which was the number of North Korean soldiers who reportedly died after South Korea’s military fired on North Korean positions in response to the North Korean shelling of Yongpyong Island.

The salvo of 45 shells was aimed at commemorating the “indignity” suffered by North Korea nine years ago and also encourage soldiers to continue to “fight to the death” against the enemy, the sources said.

SHELLING AIMED AT PROVOKING SOUTH KOREA

Kim Jong Un also reportedly ordered the shells to be fired toward South Korea’s side of the Northern Limit Line (NLL), but the shells did not cross the NLL.

“The 76.2mm artillery guns used in the drill have a range of only 12 kilometers,” said one of Daily NK’s military sources.

North Korea has longer-range artillery in its arsenal, such as 130 millimeter and 152 millimeter guns with ranges of 28 kilometers and 37 kilometers, respectively. North Korea appears to have fired its shorter-range artillery during the recent drill, the source added.

“It’s clear that North Korea wanted to test the South Korean response and how well they could figure out what’s going on,” another military source told Daily NK.

“North Korean leaders may have been expressing their anger that their negotiations with the US are not going well, while also signalling to the South Koreans that there’s no hope of inter-Korean harmony if US-North Korean talks break down,” he added.

MORE ARTILLERY DRILLS TO COME?

Daily NK sources speculated that North Korea’s military may be planning future artillery drills in the West Sea.

This speculation is given credence by reports that Kim told military leaders at the artillery shelling on Nov. 23 that the military needs to put together “new tactical plans” to improve both the North Korean military’s “ability to fight in combat” and “improve its equipment” to respond effectively in “modern warfare.”

The North Korean leader also reportedly emphasized that during the winter military drills period (which start from Dec. 1, 2019, and end on Mar. 20, 2020) artillery units must continue drills in accordance with these new tactical plans.

In response to North Korea’s artillery drills on Nov. 23, South Korea’s military sent a letter of protest to North Korea through the West Sea inter-Korean military communication line. The letter expressed regret that North Korea had violated the inter-Korean military agreement made on September 19, 2018.

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