Today's award goes to two members of the Republic of Korea Marine Corps. Flight Global reports:
An Asiana A321 with 119 passengers and crew members onboard is the latest jet to come under bullet fire as two South Korean soldiers fired 99 rounds from their K-2 rifles over ten minutes towards the jet last Friday, AFP reports.
The jet descending to Seoul's Incheon airport managed to escape any harm as it was too far away from the soldiers, who were stationed on Gyodong island, 1.7 kilometres south of the North Korean coast. They managed to mistake the A321 for a jet from North Korea, its northerly neighbor who it lacks peaceful relations with. South Korean soldiers had been alerted to possible provocative acts by North Korea and are reported to have rules of engagement that do not require superior approval.
"When the plane appeared over Jumun island, soldiers mistook it as a North Korean military aircraft and fired," a Marine Corps official told Yonhap, the AFP says.
The aircraft was "flying normally" and following a normal route from Chengdu, China, an air traffic controller told the AFP.
An Asiana spokeswoman said the military checked-up with the airline after the incident, and confirmed to the AFP there was no damage.
The AFP adds that local newspaper Yonhap says the Marine Corps will step up training for soldiers to help them distinguish civilian aircraft from enemy jets.
There's more at the link.
In fairness to the two Marines, AFP reported that:
The South's Defence Minister Kim Kwan-Jin has told frontline troops that if the North Koreans attack, they should strike back immediately without waiting for orders from top commanders about how to respond.
"Don't ask your commanders whether to fire back or not. Take actions first and then report afterwards," Kim was quoted as saying when he visited the western frontline in March.
The minister's remarks came after the South's military was widely criticised for a perceived weak and slow response when North Korea last November shelled Yeonpyeong island, one of five frontline islands, and killed four people.
Again, more at the link.
However, even with such instructions, there's an awful lot of difference between an Asiana Airlines Airbus A321 (this very aircraft, in fact):
and a North Korean strike aircraft, something like these:
Considering the notoriously tough discipline of the South Korean Marine Corps, I daresay those two unfortunate Marines are currently wishing they'd never been born . . .
(On the other hand, they might want to swap tall tales over a beer with the unfortunate anti-terrorist squad of the gendarmerie of Réunion Island in the Indian Ocean, who also had a small difficulty involving gunfire and an airliner . . . and won a previous Doofus Of The Day award as a result!)