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The North Korean military has breached the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating the communist nation from South Korea multiple times this month.

North Korean soldiers were spotted inside the DMZ on Tuesday morning, apparently laboring on a project in the forbidden area.

South Korean military officials published photos of the incursion by North Korean troops around 8:30 a.m., who the Joint Chiefs of Staff say were carrying work tools. 

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North Korea DMZ

North Korean soldiers work at an undisclosed location near the demilitarized zone border area, as seen from a South Korean guard area. (South Korea Defense Ministry via AP)

South Korean soldiers fired warning shots to spook the North Koreans, who scattered and re-entered their own borders.

Approximately 20 to 30 North Koreans are believed to have entered the DMZ during the incident.

A similar incursion into the DMZ was reported earlier this month, when a large group of North Korean soldiers crossed into the forbidden area on June 9.

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North Korea DMZ

PAJU, SOUTH KOREA – 2024/05/18: A view of Kaesong from Mount Dora inside the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). The Korean DMZ spans 160 miles (258 km) and serves as a buffer between North and South Korea. It was created in 1953 through the Korean Armistice Agreement, which involved North Korea, China and the United Nations Command. (Photo by Jasmine Leung/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The June 9 incident caused a similar outcry from South Korean guards, who broadcast warning messages and fired warning shots until the interlopers fled the area.

These interactions have heightened tensions between the two Koreas just as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is expected to host Russian President Vladimir Putin this week.

Putin is set to visit Pyongyang for two days beginning on Tuesday as he conducts his first official state visit to the communist nation in 24 years.

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North Korea DMZ

In this undated photo provided on Tuesday, June 18, 2024, by the South Korea Defense Ministry, North Korean soldiers work at an undisclosed location near the border area, as seen from a South Korean guard area. South Korean soldiers fired warning shots to repel North Korean soldiers who temporarily crossed the rivals’ land border Tuesday for the second time this month, South Korea’s military said.  (South Korea Defense Ministry via AP)

Russia has kept the much smaller and economically fragile North Korea as an ally as Western powers unleashed burdensome sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine.

North Korea has, in the past few years, served as a valuable middleman for Russia and China by conducting business and manufacturing operations outside the view of international law.

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