The two Koreas, which remain technically at war, are split along the 248-kilometer-long, four-kilometer-wide border region referred to as the Demilitarized Zone that was originally created as a buffer.
The zone — which is one of the world’s most heavily-fortified border areas — is planted with some two million mines and guarded by barbed wire fences, tank traps, and combat troops on both sides.
On May 3, the two Koreas exchanged gunfire on the border. There were no casualties in the firefight.
The UNC said in a statement on Tuesday that a multinational special investigation team had concluded that North Korean troops in a guard post violated the armistice agreement by firing four rounds of 14.5mm ammunition at a UNC guard post on the southern side of the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) that divides the DMZ.
The investigation also determined that South Korea also breached the armistice by responding to the shooting by firing two volleys of gunfire toward North Korea half an hour later.
South Korean and American officials have said they believe the gunshots were an accident, but the UNC said “the investigation was unable to definitively determine if the four rounds were fired intentionally or by mistake.”
The UN command said North Korean military officials had not provided an official response to its invitation to provide information on the shooting.
Reacting to the UN investigation, Seoul slammed the UNC findings, with the South Korean Defense Ministry saying that they lacked substantive investigation into North Korea’s role.
The ministry added in a statement that the South Korean military had followed appropriate procedures in responding to the shooting.
In 2018, tensions between the two Koreas began to ease, but the peace efforts came to a halt amid an impasse in nuclear negotiations between North Korea and the US.