Pyongyang’s jamming of GPS in South halted

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Pyongyang’s jamming of GPS in South halted

North Korea stopped jamming Global Positioning System (GPS) signals in South Korea as of Wednesday at noon, South Korea’s defense ministry said.

But there is the possibility that the jamming could be resumed.

Moon Sang-gyun, a spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, said Thursday at a briefing that the jamming signals ceased Wednesday at 12 p.m. The ministry will watch closely to see if they are totally halted or merely suspended.

North Korea started the jamming in early April, apparently in protest of joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States. The jamming can cause malfunctions of phones and disrupt planes and ships that heavily rely on GPS navigation systems. The military said the jamming signals were coming from four regions in South Hwanghae and Gangwon and the signals got stronger a week ago. Recently, the North also sent signals to the South from Kaesong, which affected South Korean fishing boats in the western sea.

Around 1,000 airplanes and 715 ships were affected by the disruptions, according to Yonhap News Agency. Moon said Thursday there was no damage reported by the military.

The signals can reach over 100 kilometers (62 miles), according to the Defense Ministry. It said they violate the armistice agreement that ended the Korean War and regulations of the International Telecommunication Union.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s military is monitoring closely the movements of the North’s Gorae-class submarine at Sinpo South Shipyard, according to Jeon Ha-kyu, a public relations official at the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The 2,000-ton submarine is likely to be equipped with submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM). Intelligence agencies of the United States and South Korea believe the North is in its final stage of developing the technology to launch a missile from a submarine.

Satellite photos by Google Earth on Dec. 26 and Jan. 13 show that the location of the Gorae-class submarine has changed, raising suspicions that the North is preparing a SLBM test.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un recently ordered his military to prepare for a nuclear-warhead test and ballistic missile test “soon.”

BY JEONG YONG-SOO [kim.sohee0905@joongang.co.kr]

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