Balloonmania: South Korea, Colombia Monitor Suspected Spy Balloons

Former President Donald Trump is calling for the Chinese spy balloon floating over the Uni

Balloon-mania spread across the world this weekend as South Korea reported an incursion by a North Korean balloon into its territory, and the Colombian military confirmed a sighting of a “balloon-like object” within its airspace.

The Colombian sighting involved an object floating at 55,000 feet and moving at a speed of less than 30 miles per hour, which the Colombian air force described as “characteristics similar to those of a balloon.” The air force said it did not judge the object to be a security threat.

Colombian military officials on Saturday did not venture a guess as to the origin of the mysterious object, but the U.S. military previously warned that a Chinese “unmanned aircraft” was operating over Latin America at the same time a Chinese balloon was completing its journey across the continental United States. Colombian officials did not indicate they believed that China played any role in the discovery of the alleged object near its airspace.

Social media accounts from Venezuela and Costa Rica also included balloon sightings, which could have been the object tracked by Colombia and/or the object described by the U.S. military.

Costa Rican civil aviation director Fernando Naranjo said the object sighted over his country was “the same thing everyone else saw, a white ball,” which is a fair description of the infamous balloon spotted over Montana.

Venezuela’s socialist government, which counts China as the top customer for its oil, had no official comment about the balloon sightings. Venezuela did, however, condemn the United States for shooting down the “unmanned civilian aircraft of Chinese origin” that passed through American airspace.

Meanwhile, South Korea said on Monday that a North Korean balloon briefly entered its airspace on Sunday.

The South Korean military said North Korea’s balloon, which appeared to be a genuine weather balloon and not a surveillance device, spent only a few hours on the wrong side of the border. The South Korean military said it took “measures” during the incursion, but did not shoot the balloon down.

North Korea has responded with belligerence to South Korean activists who use balloons to send pamphlets critical of the regime in Pyongyang across the border, sometimes accompanied by desirable goods such as medicine and protective equipment during the coronavirus pandemic.

South Korea, on the other hand, was outraged when five North Korean drones entered its airspace in December, one of them coming perilously close to Seoul. The inability of the South Korean military to intercept any of the drones has become a topic of great concern.


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