On Saturday 119 Passengers en route from Chengdu, China, to Inchon, South Korea, may have been unaware of rifle fire from a pair of South Korean soldiers stationed on Gyodong Island, which is directlly off the west coast of Korea and close to the still disputed demilitarized zone and border between North and South Korea. The fire unleashed from hand-held K2 rifles fell short by about half a kilometer because the passenger plane was somewhat out of range, so the passengers were never endangered.
The Asiana Airlines Flight was on course according to some reports, slightly north of course in other others; but in either case, flying over the Island of Jumun. The soldiers wielding the rifles believed the plane to be a North Korean military aircraft. The soldiers’ fire continued for about 10 minutes, dozens of rounds were discharged. The undamaged plane was in a descent and preparing to land at Inchon.
Tensions between North and South Korea have been more strained than usual in the past two years. South Korea has taken part in military maneuvers seen as threatening by North Korea, which has taken deadly action in response. China, too, has entered a more confrontational phase, as China seeks to take control of the South China Sea, near Vietnam and the Philippine Islands.
Diplomatic reaction to the rifle shots is anticipated soon, and the soldiers involved may be subject to discipline.
(Authors note: The soldier in the photo was not involved in the mistaken rifle fire)