North Korea has launched two short-range missiles off its eastern coast, according to the South Korean military. These launches occurred shortly after Pyongyang issued a warning of an “inevitable” response to military exercises conducted by South Korean and US troops. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff reported that the launches originated from North Korea’s capital region on Thursday.
The Japanese defense ministry confirmed that the two ballistic missiles landed within Japan’s exclusive economic zone, deviating from a regular trajectory. One missile landed in the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, approximately 110km (70 miles) northwest of Hegura Island in Ishikawa prefecture, while the other landed about 250km (155 miles) away, as stated by Japanese authorities.
During the missile launch, US President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, was in Tokyo for meetings with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts, Cho Tae-yong and Takeo Akiba. They discussed North Korea’s missile program and expressed their commitment to working closely together to convince Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons, as outlined in a statement released by Japan.
Prior to the missile launch, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol observed several thousand South Korean and US troops participating in live-fire exercises, aiming to demonstrate a show of force that the allies believe is necessary to deter North Korea.
In response to the military drills, a spokesperson for North Korea’s Ministry of National Defense accused the exercises of escalating tensions in the region and warned that their forces would sternly retaliate against any protests or provocations from their enemies.
Last month, Pyongyang made an unsuccessful attempt to launch a spy satellite, marking its first satellite launch effort since 2016. The rocket booster and payload ultimately fell into the sea.
It is important to note that North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs are prohibited by United Nations Security Council resolutions, which have imposed sanctions on the country. However, diplomatic efforts to reduce tensions or persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear arsenal have reached an impasse.
On Wednesday, South Korea filed a lawsuit against North Korea, seeking $35 million in compensation for a liaison office that North Korea destroyed in 2020. This case highlights the deteriorating relationship between the two neighboring countries.