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S. Korea To Protest Communist North Over GPS Jamming

South Korea said on Wednesday that it would urge North Korea to immediately stop jamming the satellite-based Global Positioning System (GPS) that have raised new safety concerns for civilian flights and ships amid the Communist neighbor's military threats.

North Korea has been disrupting GPS signals since April 28, though no accidents have been reported, the Korea Communications Commission said in a statement in Seoul. South Korea would protest the North's actions through the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in Geneva, the statement added.

The South says the jamming signals are coming from somewhere near the southwestern city of Kaesong, near the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas. The disruptions have affected about 660 aircraft arriving at and departing from Incheon and Gimpo airports and around 180 ships in the Yellow Sea.

The South Korean government is calling on airlines and shipping firms to be cautious about using GPS.

The North's move came five days after it threatened to launch special military actions "to reduce Seoul to ashes in minutes" over South Korea's alleged insult to the North's dignity.

"The North's act of disturbing GPS signals constitutes a violation of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) charter that bans harmful interference," South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted the statement as saying.

Both the Koreas are members of the U.N. agency in charge of information and communication technologies.

South Korea will lodge protests over the North's ongoing electronic jamming with North Korean representatives at the border village of Panmunjom that separates the two Koreas.

The rival Koreas keep a Red Cross channel at Panmunjom to communicate urgent matters, though it remains unclear whether the North will accept the protest message via fax, according to the Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs.

South Korea will also plan to hold close consultations with the international community over the North's electronic attacks and plans to raise the issue with the ITU and the International Civil Aviation Organization.

The jamming attacks have affected 609 flights operated by ten South Korean airlines and 48 foreign flights by 22 foreign airlines, including Korean Air, FedEx, UPS, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines, according to Son Dong-hwan, Deputy Director of the Transportation Ministry.

He also said a U.S. military plane and 176 South Korean ships were also affected by disruption in GPS signals.

North Korea had disturbed GPS signals in March last year when South Korea held joint military maneuvers with the United States in the north-western areas.

Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said at that time that the North's attempt to block military communications was ineffective because most military devices use a military-only satellite navigation system.

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