South Korea Eyes Kim Jong Un’s Regime After Drone Crashes

SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korea is investigating whether a drone that crashed on one of its islands originated in North Korea, according to reports Tuesday.

The unmanned aircraft fell on the island of Baengnyeong at around 4 p.m. Monday (3 a.m. ET) after the North and South exchanged hundreds of shells in disputed waters off their western coast.

A spokesperson for the joint military command between the United States and South Korea confirmed to NBC News early Tuesday that a drone had been found by a resident of the island. The official said it was being analyzed.

"As an in-depth analysis is currently under way, we cannot confirm which country made this drone," a military source told South Korea's Yonhap news agency, speaking on condition of anonymity. "But there is a possibility that it belongs to North Korea."

A military official told Reuters that the South is looking into any possible link between the drone and the espionage operations of Kim Jong Un's regime.

Image: Possible drone aircraft during military parade in Pyongyang in 2013
North Korea displayed what it said were drone aircraft during a military parade in Pyongyang last year. ED JONES / AFP - Getty Images, file

South Korean officials have disassembled the drone to try to determine its origin. The source told Yonhap said the aircraft was 7-10 feet long, had a Japanese engine and Chinese components, and was fitted with a small camera.

It was similar to another drone collected near the border city of Paju on March 24, another source told Yonhap.

Reuters contributed to this report.

- Julie Yoo and Alexander Smith