A South Korean navy vessel fires an anti-ship missile during a naval drill off the east coast of South Korea, May 19, 2015. ©AFP

Source: Press TV

North Korea has warned its southern neighbor against conducting live-firing drills near their maritime border, describing Seoul’s expected military exercises as “provocative.”

“There will be a merciless retaliation by our troops on five border islands… if the South pushes ahead with the live-fire drills targeting us on the Yellow Sea on November 23,” the North Korean army said in a statement published by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Sunday.

South Korea’s military has in the past years staged live-fire drills near the sea border with the North around the anniversary of Pyongyang’s shelling of South Korean Yeonpyeong Island some five years ago.

The shelling of the island killed four South Koreans, including two civilians, on November 23, 2010.

South Korean tanks fire live rounds during a joint drill with the US at the Seungjin Fire Training Field, northeast of the capital, Seoul, August 28, 2015. ©AFP  

It is still unknown whether Seoul will stage an exercise this year to mark the fifth anniversary of the shelling.

“The South’s military warmongers should get a grip on their mind…and behave in line with the August agreement,” the statement said, referring to an inter-Korean deal aimed at reducing tensions.

Based on the accord, Seoul and Pyongyang have agreed to take steps to ease growing tension triggered by a landmine explosion that was blamed on Pyongyang and maimed two South Korean border guards in early August.

The Korean Peninsula has been grappling with a cycle of military rhetoric since the Korean War, which lasted from 1950 to 1953, divided the peninsula, and left millions of people displaced and many families permanently separated.

The inter-Korean conflict concluded with an armistice rather than a peace treaty, which means that the two Koreas technically remain at war.