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S. Korea Alerts at N. Korea`s Airspace Incursion

Posted February. 20, 2003 23:09,   


At around 10:03 a.m. yesterday, a North Korean jet fighter, which was believed to be a MIG, flew down south of the Northern Limit Line (NLL) by about 13km near to Yonpyong Island, and came back to North after 2 minutes at 10:05 a.m., announced the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. North Korea last breached the NLL 20 years ago, or in 1983, south into the airspace above Backryung Island, which is part of South Korea`s territory.

The North Korean fighter believed to be a MIG 19 went back toward Onchun Air Force base in South Pyungahn Province, North Korea, when South Korean fighters were dispatched, said the office. According to the office, the North Korean jet plane was flying at 800-900km per hour at the time of incursion, and no other Northern fighter were with it.

At around 9:54 a.m., the South Korean Air Force first detected the fighter heading down to south. Upon the fighter`s incursion, the command sent two F-5Es to the scene, which were on a reconnaissance mission nearby. In addition, the Air Force command alerted its anti-aircraft artillery unit in Incheon for engagement. Furthermore, the command deployed four more F-5Es to deter the North Korean fighter.

Col. Oh Sung-dae in charge of airborne operations confirmed, "The North Korean jet fighter flew in circle one time 3-5 minutes prior to breaching the NLL. Then, it flew zigzagging, heading down to south. We are figuring out North Korea`s intention through careful analysis of the flight`s navigation route."

He cautioned, however, "There could have been two MIGs. When two planes fly close to each other, the radar sometimes fails to tell. Thus, in a rare case, two flights show up as one on the radar screen."

In the meanwhile, the Defense Ministry issued a statement and accused North Korea of violation of peace. In the statement, the ministry said, "We gravely concern about the results that could possibly be caused by North Korea`s violation of the NLL and provocative acts. The peace on the Korean Peninsula could be severely threatened by the irrational behavior. North Korea should account for the incident."

Sang-Ho Yun ysh1005@donga.com