North Korea's military fired artillery shells in a disputed part of the west coast this morning. The South Korean military responded by firing vulcan canon shots into the air as a warning. CNN.com reports the Yonhap News Agency as saying the retaliation was "a statement that it [South Korea] would not be intimidated by saber-rattling by the communist neighbor." North Korea claims its actions are part of an annual military drill. Sohn Jie-ae (CNN's Seoul correspondent) hypothesizes that this may be more political postering from North Korea. Anytime, they face negotiations with other nations, she says, we tend to see this show of power from them. They are currently facing peace treaty talks with the U.S. and South Korea has decided to postpone talks of joint tourism.
South Korea also recently put out a warning to North Korea, stating that if there are strong enough indications that North Korea intends to attack, that they will launch a preemptive strike. This came after North Korea's National Defense Comission threw around words like "holy war."
North Korea's economy is suffering severely, and I have to wonder if this behavior reflects some last ditch effort to save face while taking aid from the South and negotiating (off and on) in the nuclear talks. South Korea is definitely doing its own share of posturing by keeping a watchful eye on the North and responding to everything the nation does with vigor.
To be honest, my knowledge of politics and foreign policy is only enough to get me into trouble. But, I find the relationship between these two sibling nations very interesting and I invite you to share your thoughts and opinions or to impart any knowledge about the situation.