A day after North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un made his first public appearance in months, tensions escalated between North and South Korea when the former fired shots at the latter along their tense border.
On Saturday, the two countries exchanged gunfire around a rural guard post, further raising tensions. South Korea retaliated to the shots fired from across the DMZ but no casualties were reported.
Commenting on this highly charged exchange between the neighbouring countries, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday that shots fired by North Korea across its border with South Korea were likely “accidental."
“We think those are accidental. South Koreans did return fire. So far as we can tell, there was no loss of life on either side,” Pompeo said on ABC This Week.
North Korea has been in news for some time now, mainly owing to the health of its leader Kim. Rumour mills were set in motion when the North Korean dictator failed to make an appearance at the birthday celebration of his late grandfather-- an important political event. While some unconfirmed reports said that he was dead, others reported that he was in a vegetative state.
North Korea maintained silence throughout the speculation and last week directly released pictures of Kim at an event as a response.
When speculations were rife, South Korea confirmed that Kim Jong Un was "alive and well."
Pompeo declined to discuss whether he knows if Kim has been gravely ill over the last few weeks. He, however, said, “It looks like Chairman Kim is alive and well.”
“We know there have been other extended periods of time where Chairman Kim’s been out of public view as well, so it’s not unprecedented,” Pompeo said.