North Korea denied on Thursday it had fired artillery rounds into the Yellow Sea on Wednesday, but its neighbor to the south isn’t buying it.
North Korea claimed what South Korean military personnel and islanders heard was actually construction blasting inside North Korea.
The North Korean state-run news agency quoted an unnamed military official in Pyongyang who said South Korea’s claim of what happened the day before is “sheer fiction.”
The officer added no shells were fired from the North, and said that what those in the South heard were peaceful detonations in South Hwanghae Province for “brisk construction of a gigantic object aimed at improving the standard of people’s living.”
On Wednesday, South Korea said its forces fired warning shots into the Yellow Sea after soldiers on the disputed Yeonpyeong island heard North Korean artillery explosions.
South Korean military officials said three of the five North Korean shells fell in waters close to the disputed Northern Limit Line.
On Thursday, South Korea’s military dismissed the North’s version as false.
A research fellow at the Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul told Voice of America that he sees a motive for Pyongyang firing artillery into the tense waters at this juncture.
Kim Jin-moo told VOA that it could be that North Korea was conducting an exercise and, because relations with the South are not progressing as Pyongyang desired, they want to raise tensions to put themselves in a more advantageous negotiating position.