In an escalation to a North Korean missile test earlier this week, both North and South Korea test-fired ballistic missiles hours apart from each other Wednesday. The video above shows South Korea’s missile launch.
North Korea fired first, according to South Korean and Japanese militaries. The two missile flew 500 miles before landing in the sea inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone and not international waters. This was the first time since October 2019 a North Korean missile landed in the zone.
In response, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the launches “threaten the peace and safety of Japan and the region and are absolutely outrageous.”
Hours later, South Korea reported its first test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile. According to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, the missile hit a designated target but did not say how far the weapon flew.
“North Korea provoked today by launching a ballistic missile,” President Moon said. “I believe that our SLBM can be a very effective deterrent to cope with this asymmetric force of North Korea.”
South Korea has been actively pursuing reconciliation with North Korea. Observers say Wednesday’s launch may have been a move to appear tougher in response to criticism that it’s too soft on North Korea.
In a statement carried by North Korean state media, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister Kim Yo Jong called Moon and South Korea out for describing North Korean weapons demonstrations as a provocation.
“If the president joins in the slander and detraction (against us), this will be followed by counter actions, and the North-South relations will be pushed toward a complete destruction,” Kim said. “We do not want that.”
According to experts, North Korea is building up its weapons systems to apply pressure on the United States to lift economic sanctions. Ironically, those sanctions are aimed at forcing North Korea to abandon its nuclear arsenal.
The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said North Korea’s test “highlights the destabilizing impact of (North Korea’s) illicit weapons program”.
South Korea is under the protection of America’s nuclear umbrella.