A South Korean military ship has fired warning shots at a North Korean patrol vessel after it violated a maritime border, a local news agency has said.
Yonhap says it comes after the vessel passed into the South’s waters to intervene when the South Korean military seized a North Korean fishing boat that did the same.
A fishing vessel from the north crossed the border at around 9.30am local time (00.30 GMT) off the peninsula’s west coast, before being towed to South Korea’s Baengnyeongdo island to be investigated, the agency added.
It comes as tensions appear to be building once more between the two countries, with the north seemingly beginning construction at a nuclear testing site for the first time since 2018.
North Korea is rebuilding a destroyed nuclear site
Satellite imagery captured late last week shows early signs of activity at the Punggye-ri nuclear site, which includes the construction of a new building, repairs being made and what is thought to be lumber present, US analysts said.
In 2018, Sky News witnessed the apparent destruction of the site in the north east of the country – but some tunnels remained operational.
North Korea tested a record number of missiles in January, including its largest weapon since 2017, and appears to be preparing to launch a spy satellite.
As well as Punggye-ri, international monitors have also spotted activity at the Yongbyon nuclear reactor facility, which could be producing fuel for weapons, with the country seemingly laying the groundwork to return to intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and nuclear bomb tests this year, US intelligence believes.
Talks on denuclearisation stalled in 2019, when the then-US president Donald Trump met with the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam for negotiations – but they amounted to nothing.
The US has since said it is open to talks without any preconditions, but North Korea says Washington DC and its western allies have to first stop their “hostile policies”.
North Korea’s increased activity comes just days before South Koreans head to the ballot box to elect a new president, with candidates keeping one eye on what is happening over the border.