News / Asia

S. Korea Closely Watching North’s Air Force

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) visits Unit 1017 of the Korean People's Army Air Force in an undisclosed. (File)North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) visits Unit 1017 of the Korean People's Army Air Force in an undisclosed. (File)
x
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) visits Unit 1017 of the Korean People's Army Air Force in an undisclosed. (File)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) visits Unit 1017 of the Korean People's Army Air Force in an undisclosed. (File)
SEOUL - South Korea's military is declaring it is ready for any provocation from Pyongyang, amid increased activity by North Korean fighter jets.

South Korea's joint chiefs of staff Thursday said it is "closely paying attention to North Korean movements" after a significant number of sorties by North Korean jets near South Korean airspace in the past several weeks.

A spokesman for the joint chiefs would not release specific details about the activity. But sources say the North Korean jets have been making dozens of daily sorties with several approaching what is known as the Tactical Action Line. That is the point between 20 and 50 kilometers north of South Korean airspace. Any aircraft approaching that line compels fighter jets in the South to scramble.

An official at the Defense Ministry, speaking to VOA News on condition he not be named, says none of the North Korean jets entered South Korean airspace. But an hour-long flight Tuesday by a North Korean SU-25 fighter prompted South Korea to dispatch four jets. The fighter, capable of a top speed of 950 kilometers an hour, approached South Korea's Gangwha island, just north of Incheon International Airport, and then spent several minutes over the border city of Kaesong before returning north.

In a South Korean Memorial Day speech at the National Cemetery, President Lee Myung-bak did not directly refer to the previous day's provocative flight but advised Pyongyang to be cautious.

President Lee says South Korea has an impregnable security posture and will safeguard peace on the peninsula by responding to any provocation with strict punishment.

Kim Jong Un's address

On the same day, 200 kilometers to the North, the new leader in Pyongyang, Kim Jong Un, appeared before an audience of thousands of schoolchildren and gave his second public speech since assuming power last year.

Kim says the children "should become young revolutionaries and young vigilantes and dare death" to protect the workers' party.

Earlier this week, the general staff of the North's Korean People's Army threatened to attack conservative media firms in Seoul for perceived insults against the new North Korean leader. Pyongyang warned unless an apology is forthcoming South Korea faces "a merciless sacred war."

Although such belligerent rhetoric is common, some analysts say Pyongyang is demonstrating it is now moving beyond words. They also note recent jamming of satellite navigation signals blamed on North Korea, which affected commercial jets and ships in the South.

Show of loyalty?

Analysts contend a military provocation might come from the North as part of the process by forces there to demonstrate loyalty to Kim and show he is as capable and tough as his late father and grandfather, the repressive country's only other leaders.

A senior researcher at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, Park Dae-kwang, says the increased fighter jet flights are related to this.

Park says the sorties approaching the Tactical Action Line appear linked to recent threatening rhetoric from Pyongyang. But he says North Korea's air force is severely constrained by fuel shortages.

Although North Korea has long been able to claim a much larger-sized air force than South Korea's, analysts note that - with the exception of several MiG-29's - its planes are old, they lack advanced weapons and their pilots do not get adequate training.

South Korea has more than 500 fighter jets, most of them American-made.

South Korea also enjoys the advantage of the presence of the U.S. 7th Air Force. Its main combat assets are the F-16 and A-10 squadrons of the forward-deployed 51st Fighter Wing at Osan Air Base and advanced F-16s at Kunsan Air Base.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid