As the negotiators haggled, the North raised the stakes by moving more artillery forces to the front line, a South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman said, speaking on the customary condition of anonymity.
“We have also detected 70 percent of the North Korean submarines missing from their bases, and we are looking for their whereabouts,” he said. “This is a typical North Korean tactic of talking on one hand and brandishing military power on the other to try to force their way.”
It is highly unusual for so many of the North’s 70 known submarines to be away from their bases at once, officials here said. South Korea has been particularly sensitive about North Korean submarines after 46 sailors were killed in 2010 in the sinking of a South Korean Navy ship, which the South attributed to a torpedo fired by a North Korean submarine.
The military of both Korea’s have been on heightened alert since they exchanged artillery fire on Thursday in a dispute over the loudspeakers. Although no casualties were reported, the clash was the most serious in five years.
Since taking office in 2011, Mr. Kim has striven to prove himself a worthy “military first” successor of his father and grandfather, both of whom ruled North Korea before him, by conducting nuclear and long-range missile tests. But his inexperience in managing crises has added to worries about the current standoff. Some analysts fear that his frequent executions of top officials might make top generals more prone to attempt armed provocations to prove their loyalty and to survive his reign.
“Both sides had comprehensive discussions on how to resolve the current situation and how to improve South-North relations in general,” Min Kyung-wook, a spokesman for President Park Geun-hye of South Korea, said on Sunday about the border talks that began on Saturday.
To read the rest of this article by CHOE SANG-HUN on August 23, 2015 in The New York Times click on the link below.