A North Korean drone has been confirmed to have trespassed South Korea’s presidential no-fly zone last month. This report was confirmed by the South’s military officials on Thursday at which the drone was said to have entered the 3.7-kilometer no-fly zone around President Yoon Suk-Yeol’s office, leaving military officials worried that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) was able to briefly survey such a vital area.

Sources from CGTN said the drone was one of five that crossed into South Korean territory on Dec. 26, which prompted the military to scramble fighter jets as well as attack helicopters to intercept the drones but failed to destroy them. President Yoon Suk-Yeol later admonished the military for failing to shoot down the trespassing North Korean aircraft.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) initially denied the report that an unmanned aircraft from the North had flown directly over the Yongsan area where the office of the President was located. They later retracted that statement and officially confirmed the incident on Thursday, adding that it violated the northern end of the area. The military also denied that a drone from the DPRK flew over the area. ROK Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup disclosed the drone’s entry into the zone during a meeting regarding countermeasures for drones. The meeting also went into detail on methods to detect radar-evading drones and “drone-killer” systems.

The recent drone incursion from North Korea appears to have proven an insufficient readiness by South Korea to respond and shoot down such small enemy drones. In light of this recent incident, President Yoon considered suspending a 2018 inter-Korean military pact should the North attempt to violate South Korean airspace again. The end of the pact could mean acts of hostility between the two Koreas could resume around the Demilitarized Zone.

Last week, South Korea's military reassured the likelihood of the North obtaining meaningful information during their drone's brief reconnaissance was relatively low. They described Pyongyang’s technology to be rather poor, however, they did remark that the drone may have taken photos of the area. Nevertheless, the incursion still remained worrisome, said military officials, especially during the height of tension between the two nations.

South Korea deployed warplanes
South Korea deployed warplanes Monday after several suspected North Korean drones entered its airspace. Photo by: South Korean Defence Ministry via AFP/Handout

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