Is it a bird? Yes, actually. After US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met at the DMZ, South Korea scrambled jets to intercept an “unidentified object,” which turned out to be a flock of birds.
With the impromptu meeting between Trump and Kim being described in the media as both “historic” and a “photo-op,” South Korea’s military was on high alert again on Monday morning, as radars picked up “traces of flight by an unidentified object” heading south across the demarcation line, the South’s Yonhap news agency reported.
Media reports said that fighter jets were launched to intercept the object, which bore a similar radar signature to a helicopter. Though the South Korean military did not say what assets it launched to intercept the object, it did later admit that it had been a false alarm caused by a flock of birds.
The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) – a strip of no-man’s land two and a half miles (4km) wide – has separated North and South Korea since the Korean War was paused by an armistice agreement in 1953. Watched over by guard towers and littered with an estimated two million landmines, the area is inhospitable to human life, but ideal for birds.
According to the DMZ Ecology Research Institute,159 species of birds call the strip their home, including many protected or endangered species. The area is so teeming with bird life that birdwatching tours regularly depart for the DMZ from the South Korean capital of Seoul.
President Trump made history on Sunday by becoming the first sitting US president to step across the border and enter North Korea, at Kim’s invitation. The pair sat down to a brief meeting, and though no definitive steps towards peace or denuclearization were announced, Trump tentatively invited Kim for talks at the White House, “at some point.”