The drone was one of five North Korean unmanned aerial vehicles that entered South Korean airspace on December 26.

A North Korean drone the northern end of a 3.7 km radius of no-fly zone around South Korea’s presidential office in Seoul has been invaded when it entered the country’s airspace last month, military officials said.

The drone was one of five North Korean unmanned aerial vehicles that crossed the border and entered South Korean airspace on Dec. 26. fighter jets and attack helicopters. The military was unable to shoot down the drones that flew over South Korean territory for hours.

“It [the drone] flew briefly to the northern edge of the zone, but did not approach key security features,” a military official told South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency on Thursday.

South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff had denied that any of the drones had entered the presidential office’s no-fly zone, but reversed their stance on Thursday, confirming that a drone had breached the northern end of the secure area. The military said the drone did not fly directly over the Yongsan area, where President Yoon Suk-yeol’s office is located.

The drone invasion has sparked criticism of South Korea’s air defenses at a time when North Korea is a growing threat as it develops its ballistic missile technologies, including the test launch of an unprecedented number of missiles last year.

“Drone raids have exposed the South’s inadequate preparedness to detect, track down and shoot down such small drones,” the Yonhap said.

The president of South Korea warned on Wednesday that he would consider suspending a 2018 inter-Korean military pact with Pyongyang if drones breached his country’s airspace again.

“He instructed the national security agency to consider suspending the validity of the military agreement if North Korea staged another provocation to invade our territory,” presidential press secretary Kim Eun-hye told a briefing.

The 2018 deal, sealed on the sidelines of a summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and former South Korean president Moon Jae-in, called for the cessation of “all hostile acts”, creating a no-fly zone around the border and the removal of landmines. and guard posts within the heavily fortified demilitarized zone (DMZ).

Yoon’s threat to abandon the 2018 pact could mean the return of live-fire exercises in the former no-fly zone and propaganda broadcasts across the border — all of which drew angry reactions from pre-pact Pyongyang. Yoon has criticized the army’s handling of the drone incident and has urged the country’s armed forces to stand ready to retaliate, even if it means “running the risk of escalation”.

He has also ordered the defense minister to launch a comprehensive drone unit that will perform multi-purpose missions including surveillance, reconnaissance and electronic warfare, and also called for a system for the mass production of stealth drones.

The South Korean military has operated two drone squadrons within the Ground Operations Command since 2018, but these were primarily designed to prepare for future warfare.

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