A news report says North and South Korea have traded fire after the North shot at a South Korean propaganda balloon.

The South's Defense Ministry couldn't immediately confirm the report.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency said North Korea fired at the balloon near the South Korean border town of Yeoncheon on Friday.

The reported firing comes as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been out of public view for more than a month. This has fueled speculation that something may be amiss in the authoritarian country.

South Korean activists and North Korean defectors frequently release balloons carrying anti-North Korean leaflets into the North. North Korea said Thursday that it would consider any more releases an act of war, but it regularly issues such rhetoric in its state media.