North Korea helicopter crosses South's tactical line

Dec. 13 (UPI) — South Korea scrambled fighter jets after a North Korean aircraft crossed the South’s tactical action line, according to a local news report.

South Korean television network Channel A reported Thursday the South’s military took corresponding action after an aircraft, identified as a North Korean helicopter, was detected on South Korean radar at about 11 a.m.

The tactical line is a virtual line South Korea has designated about 12 miles to 30 miles north of the Korean demilitarized zone, and the Northern Limit Line. The line was created to give South Korea reaction time in the event of a North Korea provocation. Once a North Korean aircraft crosses the line, it is only a matter of minutes before it reaches the vicinity of Seoul, the South Korean capital.

The incident on Thursday comes five days after two North Korean helicopters crossed a different area of the tactical action, near Ganghwa county on the eastern coast of the peninsula. The South’s military scrambled fighter jets in response to the breach, according to Channel A.

Senior defense analyst Shin Jong-woo of the Korea Defense Security Forum told Channel A issues remain between North and South at the border.

North Korea has broadcasted warning messages at the NLL, and has not shut the blast doors that protect the regime’s artillery, Shin said, adding the North could be using tensions at the border for “future negotiations.”

Pyongyang has stayed mostly away from provocations as it has turned to diplomacy in its dealings with the rival South. Analysts in Seoul said Thursday Kim Jong Un‘s New Year message should be examined closely for clues about Pyongyang’s policy in 2019.

Hong Min, a researcher at the Korea Institute for National Unification, said at a forum on peninsula issues the North could have delayed talks on denuclearization because it may have to deal with domestic constituents before returning to the world stage, Seoul Pyongyang News reported.

If a power shakeup took place in North Korea this year, it is likely linked to denuclearization strategy, Hong said.

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