South Korean and North Krorean flags
South Korean and North Krorean flagsiStock

North and South Korea exchanged warning shots along their disputed western sea boundary on Monday, their militaries said, according to The Associated Press.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that its navy broadcast warning and fired warning shots to repel a North Korean merchant ship that it says violated the sea boundary early Monday.

North Korea’s military said it responded by firing 10 rounds of artillery shells as a warning to South Korea. It accused a South Korean navy ship of intruding into North Korean waters on the pretext of cracking down on an unidentified ship.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the North Korean artillery launches breached a 2018 inter-Korean accord on reducing military animosities and undermines stability on the Korean Peninsula. It said the North Korean shells didn’t land in South Korean waters.

The incident comes amid heightened tensions between the two neighbors after a series of ballistic missile tests that North Korea has conducted in recent weeks.

Earlier this month, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw the launch of two long-range strategic cruise missiles.

Three days earlier, North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters. That launch came three days after it fired two ballistic missiles from the Samsok area in Pyongyang towards the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan.

In mid-October, Kim oversaw the launch of two long-range strategic cruise missiles. The launch was described by the Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) as a test to confirm the reliability and operation of nuclear-capable weapons deployed to military units.

North Korea has tested more than 30 ballistic weapons in 2022, including its first intercontinental ballistic missiles since 2017, as it continues to expand its military capabilities amid a prolonged stalemate in nuclear diplomacy.

Last month, North Korea passed a law officially enshrining its nuclear weapons policies. Kim said the new legislation makes the country’s nuclear status "irreversible" and bars any negotiation on denuclearization.