If there was ever a story that highlights how international diplomacy is akin to a house of cards, look no further than the rising tensions around the Korean peninsula.
According to multiple reports, including Reuters and Fox News, the South Korean military scrambled about 80 of its fighter jets after 180 warplanes popped up on its radar for about four hours on Friday.
The 180 flights occurred near the shared military demarcation line that divides North and South Korea, the South’s military said in a statement via Reuters.
North Korea’s antics reportedly were a direct response to Operation Vigilant Storm, a joint military exercise between the United States and South Korea.
“The irresponsible decision of the US and South Korea is shoving the present situation caused by provocative military acts of the allied forces to an uncontrollable phase,” Pak Jong-chon, a senior North Korean military official, said in a statement, according to The Korea Herald. “The US and South Korea will get to know what an irrevocable and awful mistake they made.”
The incident on Friday involving warplanes followed a pair of missile launches that both Washington and Seoul have strongly condemned.
On Wednesday, as the Herald reported, North Korea fired 23 missiles in the direction of South Korea. One of those missiles landed south of the Northern Limit Line, largely considered the maritime border between the Koreas, for the first time since the end of the Korean War in 1953.
On Thursday, North Korea test-fired another intercontinental ballistic missile, which marked its seventh such test fire this year.
The ICBM launch gave the U.S. and South Korea cause to extend Vigilant Storm. The exercise was scheduled to end Friday but now will wrap up Saturday.
Lee Jae-myung, chairman of South Korea’s opposition Democratic Party, sought to meet with President Yoon Suk Yeol about the threats while issuing a warning to Pyongyang, according to the Herald.
“If you keep pushing, you’re going to fall off the brink of the cliff, and that cliff is called international isolation,” Lee said.
North Korea’s petulant behavior was enough to get Japan to issue a public warning:
North Korea has launched a suspected ballistic missile. More updates to follow.
— PM’s Office of Japan (@JPN_PMO) November 3, 2022
Fortunately for all involved, the latest skirmish appears to have ended without incident.
But it does highlight how dangerously precarious the situation in Korea is. An errant slip of the finger, a plane flying just a little too close to the border, or any other number of potential incidents could lead to all-out war.
And war is the last thing anyone wants, particularly South Korea, which is still mourning a national tragedy over the weekend.
More than 150 people in Korea’s Itaewon district died when a packed Halloween party turned into a stampede.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.