North Korea fires 17 missiles; one lands off South Korean coast for first time

  • Several missiles fired into the sea, says South Korea’s military
  • One landed south of the disputed inter-Korean maritime border
  • South Korea’s president promises that North Korea will ‘pay the price’
  • North Korea calls allied military exercises ‘provocative’

SEOUL, Nov 2 (Reuters) – North Korea fired at least 17 missiles into the sea on Wednesday, including one that landed less than 60 km (40 miles) off South Korea’s coast, which South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol described as “territorial encroachment” by Pyongyang.

It was the first time a ballistic missile had landed near the South’s waters since the peninsula was divided, and the most missiles fired by the North in a single day. South Korea issued rare air strike warnings and fired its own missiles in response as tensions rose in the region.

The missile landed outside South Korea’s territorial waters but south of the Northern Limit Line (NLL), a disputed inter-Korean maritime border.

South Korean warplanes fired three air-to-surface missiles into the sea north across the NLL in response, the South’s military said. An official said the weapons used included an AGM-84H/K SLAM-ER, which is a US-made “stand-off” precision strike weapon that can fly up to 270 km (170 miles) with a 360 kg (800- pound) warhead.

South Korea’s launches came after Yoon’s office promised a “swift and firm response” to make North Korea “pay the price for provocation”.

“North Korea’s provocation today was an effective act of territorial encroachment by a missile that penetrated the NLL for the first time since (the two Koreas’) division,” Yoon’s office said.

The North Korean weapon was one of three short-range ballistic missiles launched from the North Korean coastal area of ​​Wonsan into the sea, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said. The JCS later said as many as 14 other missiles of various types had been fired from North Korea’s east and west coasts.

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The JCS said at least one of the missiles landed 26 kilometers (16 miles) south of the NLL, 57 kilometers (35 miles) from the South Korean city of Sokcho on the east coast and 167 kilometers (100 miles) from the island of Ulleung, where there were warnings of air strikes. issued.

“We heard the siren around 8:55 and all of us in the building went down to the evacuation site in the basement,” an Ulleung county official told Reuters. “We stayed there until we came upstairs around 9:15 after hearing that the projectile fell in the open sea.”

A resident of the southern part of the island said they received no warnings.

North Korea also fired more than 100 rounds of artillery from its east coast into a military buffer zone established in a military agreement with South Korea, South Korea’s military said.

The firing is in violation of the 2018 agreement, JCS said.

Nuclear-armed North Korea has tested a record number of missiles this year, and officials in Seoul and Washington say North Korea has completed technical preparations to conduct a nuclear weapons test for the first time since 2017.

North Korea continues to test ballistic missiles despite several UN Security Council resolutions banning all ballistic and nuclear tests in the country

The launches came just hours after Pyongyang demanded that the United States and South Korea halt major military exercises, saying such “military rashness and provocation can no longer be tolerated.”

Despite Yoons declaring a national week of mourning after more than 150 people were killed in a weekend storm in Seoul, the United States and South Korea began one of their largest combined military air exercises on Monday. The exercises, called Vigilant Storm, involve hundreds of warplanes from both sides staging mock attacks 24 hours a day. Read more

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North Korea had said a recent flurry of launches was in response to allied exercises.

Pak Jong Chon, secretary of the Central Committee of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party, said in a statement Wednesday that the number of warplanes involved in Vigilant Storm proved the exercise was “aggressive and provocative” and specifically aimed at North Korea. He said even its name mimicked the US-led Operation Desert Storm against Iraq in the 1990s.

“The enemy forces’ excessive measures of military confrontation have created a serious situation on the Korean Peninsula,” Pak said in a statement carried by state news agency KCNA.

In Washington on Tuesday, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said the exercises were “purely defensive in nature” and that the US had made clear to North Korea that it harbored no hostile intent towards the country.

Price added that the US and its allies had also made clear that there would be “deep costs and deep consequences” if North Korea resumed nuclear testing, which would be a “dangerous, destabilizing step”. He did not elaborate on the consequences.

On Wednesday, another State Department statement said the United States “condemns the DPRK’s ballistic missile launches and its reckless decision to launch a missile under the de facto maritime border with the Republic of Korea.”

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In a phone call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Foreign Minister Park Jin called the North Korean missile launch “unprecedented” and a “serious act of military provocation”. The two officials condemned the launch and agreed to cooperate against North Korean threats, Park’s office said in a statement.


South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said that due to the launches, some air routes over the sea between North Korea and Japan will be closed until Thursday morning.

“Our military can never tolerate this kind of provocative action by North Korea, and will strictly and firmly respond under close cooperation between South Korea and the United States,” the JCS said in a press release.

Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said the government believed at least two ballistic missiles had been fired from North Korea, one headed east and another southeast.

The first flew 150 kilometers to a maximum altitude of about 150 kilometers, while the second covered a range of 200 kilometers to a maximum altitude of 100 kilometers, he told reporters in Tokyo on Wednesday morning.

Reuters graphics

North Korea’s actions threaten the peace and stability of Japan, the wider region, as well as the wider international community, and are completely unacceptable, Hamada said.

“North Korea has repeatedly launched missiles at an unprecedented rate, in new ways that we have not seen before,” he said.

Reporting by Soo-hyang Choi, Choonsik Yoo and Josh Smith; Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Washington and Sakura Murakami in Tokyo; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman, Gerry Doyle and Raju Gopalakrishnan

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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