Top government officials from the Koreas met over the weekend in the border town of Panmunjom to discuss keeping the peace, Reuters reports. But North Korea seems to be hedging its bets after a South Korean military official said that 50 of its northern foe's submarines have disappeared, the Yonhap news agency reports. "Seventy percent of North Korea's submarines left their bases, and their locations are not confirmed," an official told reporters yesterday, adding, per Chosun Ilbo, "Scores of subs that have left their bases on the eastern and western coasts are off our radar, which is an unprecedentedly serious situation."
The main concern is that the subs could cross the Northern Limit Line (the maritime line in the sand between the two countries) or take on South Korean Navy vessels in surprise attacks from the rear, the paper notes. It adds that although North Korean submarines—described by the National Post as" largely outdated and technically obsolescent versions produced in the 1960s for the Soviet Union"—make a lot of noise (meaning they should be easy to find), there are so many missing it would be hard to keep track of them all. Also worrisome, per the military official: North Korea has apparently doubled its number of artillery troops along the DMZ since Friday, per Chosun Ilbo. "They seem ready to shoot," the official says. (Pyongyang declaring a "quasi-state of war" doesn't sound good.)