North Korea Y South Korea today exchanged missile launches that fell into their respective waters for the first time and, in the case of Pyongyang, it fired around 20 missiles throughout the day, a record number for the North Korean regime that further worsens a climate of regional tension that can reach historic heights.
The South Korean military first reported that Pyongyang had fired three short-range ballistic missiles from near Wonsan, on North Korea’s east coast, to the sea of japan (called East Sea in the two Koreas) around 8:51 today (23:51 GMT Tuesday).
LOOK: South Korea confirms this is the first time a North Korean missile has landed in its waters
One of them landed on the high seas, 26 kilometers south of the Northern Limit Line (LLN)which divides the waters of both countries, and about 57 kilometers east of the coastal city of Sokcho (160 kilometers northeast of Seoul), within the South Korean special economic zone.
“It is the first time since the division (of the peninsula) that a North Korean launch falls into our national waters,” Lieutenant General Kang Shin-chul, chief of operations of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), said in a statement sent to the media shortly after, adding that the action is “absolutely unacceptable” and that the South Korean military would respond “decisively.”
That North Korean missile also fell 167 kilometers northwest of the island of Ulleung, where the anti-aircraft alert was activatedapparently because the missile initially seemed aimed there.
LOOK: Japan convenes national security council due to rising tension in Korea
The first level of alert, which involves the publication of sound warnings on municipal loudspeakers and on mobile phones and televisions, was maintained on the island, of some 9,000 inhabitants, for about five hours.
The JCS, which noted that the details of the projectile’s trajectory “are still being analyzed”, later reported that Pyongyang fired around 20 missiles of different types in total throughout this Wednesday, a figure that represents a record of tests carried out in a single day for the Pyongyang regime.
In addition to the three missiles initially reported, there are another four short-range ballistic missiles fired about two hours earlier from North Pyongan (north of Pyongyang).
Also more than 10 short-range ballistic missiles and surface-to-air missiles launched later, at 9.12 local time (0.12 GMT), from different points.
At around 1:27 p.m. local time (4:27 GMT), he also fired a hundred artillery rounds at an area bordering the NLL on the east coast, which violates an agreement signed between the two Koreas in 2018 by which they promised not to carry out military activities in those areas along the maritime divide.
Finally, Pyongyang apparently fired another six short-range projectiles, both into the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan, between 4:30 p.m. and 5:10 p.m. (7:40 a.m.-8:10 a.m. GMT), one of which was detected by the Japanese authorities.
AIR ROUTES CLOSED
The North Korean launches forced the South to close some air routes that fly over its eastern coastmainly those that affect flights to and from the US and Japan, and the Ministry of Transportation indicated that this measure will be in force until early Thursday.
For their part, the South Korean and US foreign ministers, Park Jin and Antony Blinken, spoke by phone about the launches and described them as “a serious and unprecedented military provocation” as well as “deploring” that the missile tests came at a time of national mourning in the South over the Halloween tragedy in Seoul.
These North Korean launches are intended in any case to be a response to the enormous aerial maneuvers that Seoul and Washington celebrate until Friday in the region.
On the eve the regimen Kim Jong Un He has already warned that he would retaliate “more powerfully” for considering these exercises – which have involved the deployment of some 240 aircraft (including state-of-the-art stealth fighters) and are the largest of the allies in five years – a threat to their sovereignty.
SOUTH KOREAN RESPONSE
Following the North Korean launches, the South Korean president, Yoon Suk-yeolcalled an emergency meeting of the National Security Council.
That retort came shortly after his announcement, since the South Korean military then fired three air-to-surface precision missiles from F-15 and F-16 fighters “into open ocean waters north of the NLL,” which has also meant the first time that Seoul has sent this type of projectiles to waters belonging to the EEZ of its neighbor.
The tension on the peninsula has increased to dangerous levels in recent weeks due to the insistent northern launches, the great maneuvers of the allies that include Washington’s strategic assets, and the possibility that Pyongyang, as the satellites point out, could carry out soon its first nuclear test in five years.
Although the figures vary according to the type of classification, today’s is the 36th North Korean launch so far this year (a record number), according to the database of the American NGO Nuclear Threat Initiative.
I, Ronald Payne, am a journalist and author who dedicated his life to telling the stories that need to be said. I have over 7 years of experience as a reporter and editor, covering everything from politics to business to crime.