July 8 (UPI) — South Korea’s military plans to deploy “large and medium-sized warships” in areas of the Northern Limit Line, the maritime border with North Korea.
Seoul’s defense ministry said Sunday the measures are being taken following an incident involving a North Korean fishing boat in the South’s waters in June, local news service News 1 reported.
The North Korean boat carrying four fishermen had been sailing undetected in the South’s waters for 57 hours before it was brought to the attention of authorities.
Two of the fishermen returned to North Korea, and another two defected; one crew member reportedly requested to borrow a phone from a South Korean fisherman, so he could speak to his aunt who lives in Seoul.
South Korea’s decision to strengthen maritime border security includes plans to deploy a mid-sized warship, and several maritime patrol helicopters near the NLL. The decision also comes after South Korea fired the commander of Seoul’s army 8th corps, which supervises the eastern coast.
The South Korean military has decided to deploy the Camcopter S-100 and other unmanned aerial vehicles including the “Songolmae,” or “Falcon” reconnaissance aircraft, to improve intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities at sea.
The Songolmae will fly for about six hours per deployment at an operational altitude of 1-2 kilometers.
A South Korean defense ministry source told News 1 the purpose of the surveillance is to deter possible North Korean military incursions in addition to tracking civilian boat movement.
North Korea has not engaged in military activities since June following the recent summit at the Korean demilitarized zone between U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un.
Trump recently said his administration has solved North Korean issues that were created by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, The Hill reported.
“If you look at what we’ve straightened out, I call it the Obama-Biden mess,” Trump said Friday. “We’re straightening it out, whether it’s North Korea…you were going to end up in a war with North Korea, and now the relationship is a good relationship.”
Biden, the front-runner for the Democratic party’s 2020 presidential nomination, has criticized Trump for “coddling” the North Korean dictator.