Korean target practice

Photo by bizmac

This story slipped by this week without much public comment outside Korea, perhaps because the US travel community was engulfed in debate about purported, factually challenged impacts of a new entrant to SkyTeam, but it is a stark reminder of the hair trigger situation travelers pass through when transiting the exquisite Seoul Incheon International Airport.

In short, two South Korean solders fired 99 rounds from K-2 rifles at a wrongly identified Asiana Airlines A320 from Chengdu, China while it was descending to Seoul. Fortunately the plane was out of range and the incident is relegated to the merely worrying rather than tragic.

So many troubling questions are raised about safety (and South Korea’s defense), but the military and airline seem inclined to minimize it. This Korea Herald article quotes representatives of both:

“But the military will reinforce education for soldiers at guard posts
to better distinguish civilian planes,” the official said.

And:

“Taking a lesson from the incident, soldiers need to undergo thorough
education on identifying aircraft,” a company official said.

For US readers thinking this happened a world away, it is worth noting that, though down nearly 10,000 from a decade ago, there are still nearly 30,000 US troops in South Koreaand even more in nearby Japan.

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