South Korea are concerned over the whereabouts of over 50 North Korea submarines, that have left their bases.
Officials say that they are unable to track the submarines due to the sheer volume and because of the (outdated) technology that makes them appear invisible on radar.
Nevertheless, by swamping the South’s maritime defences, the North’s submarines may be able to land infiltration parties on the coast to carry out attacks behind the front line. Alternatively, they may target warships of the South Korean or US navies.
Earlier this year, North Korea released images purportedly showing a ballistic missile being fired from a submerged submarine. Although the images were dismissed at the time as being computer enhanced, there have been concerns that the North’s navy is attempting to fit at least one of its submarines with a missile.
As the negotiators haggled, the North raised the stakes by moving more artillery forces to the front line, including what were described as 20 hovercraft, a South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman said, speaking on the customary condition of anonymity.
— The Korea Observer (@korea_observer) August 24, 2015
“We have also detected 70 percent of the North Korean submarines missing from their bases, and we are looking for their whereabouts,” he said. “This is a typical North Korean tactic of talking on one hand and brandishing military power on the other to try to force their way.”
On Monday, South Korea’s president, Park Geun-hye, said there was “no backing down” in the border talks and that the South would continue its loudspeaker broadcasts unless the North apologized for its recent provocations.
“In order to stop the repeating cycle of provocations and anxiety, we need a clear apology and commitment from the North that these things will not happen again,” Park told a meeting with presidential aides, according to her office.
Talks between North Korea and South Korea on how to lower tensions continued into the early hours of Monday, as Kim Jong Un stepped up the mobilization of his forces.
Neither side showed any indication of when the meeting between Kim’s top military aide Hwang Pyong So and South Korean President Park Geun Hye’s chief security adviser Kim Kwan Jin, which began at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, might end. It follows a 10-hour session between the officials earlier in the weekend.
The standoff, with both countries’ forces on a high alert for any possible military clashes, is one of the most serious since Kim became Supreme Leader in late 2011. An uneasy truce on the peninsula is periodically disrupted by exchanges of rockets or gunfire that peter out before they escalate, though the unpredictable regime in Pyongyang keeps tensions high.
Tensions have escalated in recent weeks across the DMZ that bisects the peninsula more than 60 years after the Korean War. Two South Korean soldiers were injured Aug. 4 by land mines that the government in Seoul said were recently laid by North Korea. North Korea denied setting the devices.
South Korea retaliated for the mine blasts by resuming propaganda broadcasts through loudspeakers for the first time since 2004. North Korea views any criticism of its leader as an offense to the nation and restricts the flow of information about the outside world.
South Korea said Thursday North Korea fired shells into its territory, and responded with a barrage of artillery.
Park refused to accept Kim’s demand on Thursday that South Korea stop propaganda broadcasts across the demilitarized zone within 48 hours or face dire consequences.
North Korean troops are eagerly awaiting an order “to inflict a shower of fire” on their foes, North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency said Sunday. South Korea is continuing the broadcasts, according to its defense ministry.
Kim declared a “semi-state of war” and ordered his front-line troops into a “wartime state” over the broadcasts earlier this week. The U.S. and South Korea scrambled eight fighter jets on Saturday in a show of force, while their top generals agreed in a phone call to respond “strongly” to any North Korean attack, according to Colonel Jeon Ha Kyu, a spokesman for South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.