South Korea warned North Korea Thursday that it would immediately engage in a military response if provoked. Tensions have risen between the two countries since North Korean land mines maimed two soldiers on patrol through the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) last week. South Korea announced that its military would not need to seek approval from leadership before firing back at its northern neighbors.
"In the case that North Korea's bullets or artillery fall into our military guard posts, our soldiers and military commanders would launch an immediate response without having to seek approval from the defense minister or the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff," South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min Seok said during a press briefing, Japan Times reported.
— The Korea Times (@koreatimes) August 11, 2015
Kim's threat comes after South Korea accused North Korea Wednesday of planting land mines in the South Korean half of the DMZ along a known border patrol path, escalating military tensions between the rival nations. Two South Korean soldiers were maimed by detonated land mines along the border Aug. 4, and the country's Joint Chiefs of Staff vowed that North Korea would "pay a harsh price proportionate for the provocation it made," according to Agence France-Presse.
"We are certain they were North Korean land mines planted with an intention to kill by our enemies who sneaked across the military border," Kim told reporters, according to AFP.
— Army Recognition (@ArmyRecognition) August 13, 2015
South Korea announced Wednesday it would hold joint military drills with the United States and increase security as part of defense preparations after the land mine attack. In response, North Korea claimed that the planned military exercises were an act of aggression and a rehearsal for an invasion.
The Korean Demilitarized Zone right after the war ended in 1953. North Koreans on the left, Americans on the right pic.twitter.com/evwG8hEcT1
— Old Pics Archive (@oldpicsarchive) August 10, 2015
North Korea is "no longer what it used to be in the 1950s," a spokesman for the country's Foreign Ministry said in a statement, according to Japan Times. "It has strong military muscle to cope with any mode of war desired by the U.S."
The last direct North Korean attack was in November 2010, when the country shelled a South Korean border island killing two civilians and two soldiers. Both sides have maintained an unsteady truce amid massive militarization since the end of the Korean War in 1953.