War Averted – 50 North Korean submarines return to base after truce

 In Foreign

50 missing North Korean submarines have returned to their bases, according to a Korean official. The move comes after a marathon 43 hour session in Panmunjom between the North and South culminated in a 6 point deal in the early morning hours of August 25. 

“The 50-something submarines that had been away from their bases since Aug. 21 have shown signs of returning back to their home bases.” Korean official

 north korean submarines

Kim Jong-un loves his military might. Screenshot from Yonhap, KCNA

According to The Korean Herald,  North Korea’s submarines can’t stay underwater for more than 3 days at a time before they have to surface to replenish oxygen and risk detection. Some sources also say that they might have returned to base due to Typhoon Goni which is off the Korean peninsula.

A newsletter from Yonhap regarding North Korea states,

Following a breakthrough deal earlier this week, South and North Korea have taken steps to defuse tension on the Korean Peninsula, as the South halted anti-Pyongyang broadcasts along the border and the North lifted its “quasi-state of war.”

The broadcasts and declaration came to an end at noon on Aug. 25, hours after the two sides produced a six-point agreement in which Pyongyang expressed regret over a recent land-mine blast in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and the resulting injuries of South Korean soldiers, and agreed to lift the quasi-war state in exchange for Seoul’s conditional revocation of anti-Pyongyang broadcasts.

Pressure and manipulation

The submarines were likely part of the pressure exerted by North Korea to make it seem as though they were about to attack South Korea. The DPRK had also deployed hovercraft and special forces troops along the border.


North Korean hovercraft and submarine – photo via Chosun

The move spooked officials enough that they increased security and were concerned about the possibility of all out war should the submarines have launched an attack. Whatever the motive for the “mystery deployment,” it worked. Talks between the two nations resulted in an agreement.

North Korea has a  history of “saber-rattling” and often uses intimidation as its best tool. This one came close to kindling a conflict that could have started a full fledged war.


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