South Korea says it fired warning shots at a North Korean patrol boat that temporarily crossed the countries’ disputed western sea boundary while chasing an unarmed North Korean vessel.

According to a statement released by soul Military, two North Korean ships crossed into South Korean waters on Tuesday, with one retreating after warning shots were fired.

The other boat was, however, seized by the South Korean Navy, with six passengers wearing military uniforms on board, Seoul’s military said.

The North Korean patrol boat appeared to be chasing a steel vessel that crossed the maritime border 15 minutes earlier, but retreated after warning shots were fired, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said Tuesday, according to the Yon hap news agency

The North Korean sailors claimed that they were not planning to “defect” into South Korea, citing that there must have been a “navigating error”, during initial questioning.

The Northern Limit Line is a de facto maritime border between North and South Korea. Its origins following the 1950-53 Korean War are in dispute, according to the Wilson Center think-tank; however, North Korea refuses to recognize the boundary.

The incident comes as South Korea prepares for her Presidential Elections, which is set to hold on Wednesday, March 9, 2022.

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