South Korea said on Friday that North Korea had tried to jam GPS signals in the South, a form of sabotage it has attempted before, but that no disruption of mobile communications or of air or ship traffic had resulted.
The Pyongyang government has made several similar attempts since 2010, according to South Korean officials. In 2012, jamming signals sent by the North forced 252 commercial flights to turn off their GPS and use an alternate navigation tool. The latest signals, detected on Thursday, were not as strong as in past attempts, the South Korean Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning said in a statement.
South Korea traced the signals to Haeju, a town on North Korea’s southwestern coast, and to Diamond Mountain in the country’s southeast, the Science Ministry said. The jamming signals were still being sent on Friday, said Moon Sang-gyun, a spokesman for the South’s Defense Ministry. The Defense Ministry and the South’s Unification Ministry called them a “provocation” and called on the North to stop them.
Last week, Alison Evans, a senior analyst and East Asia expert for IHS, a research organization in London, said North Korea was likely to attempt cyberattacks or try to disrupt GPS signals in the South to show its displeasure with annual United States-South Korean joint military exercises that have been underway since early March. But she said Pyongyang was likely to try to “manage the risk of escalation” while doing so.
The South Korean Science Ministry’s announcement came as President Park Geun-hye was in Washington for a nuclear security summit meeting, where she met with President Obama and with President Xi Jinping of China to discuss the enforcement of new sanctions imposed on Pyongyang for its most recent test of a nuclear device and launch of a long-range missile.
The North has launched a number of short- and medium-range missiles since the United Nations adopted the tougher sanctions last month. It launched another short-range missile on Friday from its east coast, said a South Korean military official, who asked not to be identified because a formal announcement had not yet been made.