In what South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol described as “essentially a territorial invasion”, North Korea fired at least 17 missiles on Wednesday, one of which touched down not far from South Korean waters. In addition, it launched an artillery barrage into a marine “buffer zone,” which experts claimed was part of Pyongyang’s “aggressive and threatening” response to the massive joint air maneuvers that the US and South Korea are presently carrying out.
The Northern Limit Line, the de facto maritime border, was breached by one short-range ballistic missile, resulting in an unusual warning for Ulleungdo people to take refuge in bunkers.
A North Korean missile had fallen so near to the South’s territorial seas, according to Seoul’s military, for the “first time since the peninsula was divided” in 1953 when hostilities in the Korean War came to an end. It was an “extremely rare and intolerable” incident, the military claimed, adding that one of the missiles had landed in waters just 57 kilometers (35 miles) east of the continent.
The military in Seoul reported that Pyongyang fired a total of 10 missiles, including seven short-range ballistic missiles. During a disastrous diplomatic effort in 2018, North Korea also launched an artillery barrage into a marine “buffer zone” that had been established in an effort to ease tensions between the two nations.
Go Myong-hyun, a researcher at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies claimed that the prodigious barrage of launches were “provocations towards South Korea.”. The two countries’ maritime border is to the north, according to South Korea, which claimed to have launched three air-to-ground missiles into the water.
In order to ensure that North Korea’s provocations come with a clear cost, President Yoon convened a meeting of the National Security Council.
In order to “ensure passenger safety in the routes to the United States and Japan,” South Korea shut down some flight routes across the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan. Local airlines were advised to take a different route.
The most recent launch from Pyongyang occurs as hundreds of warplanes from both sides participate in “Vigilant Storm,” the largest-ever combined air drill between Seoul and Washington.
According to a report in state media on Wednesday, Pak Jong Chon, a senior North Korean official, described the drills as aggressive and provocative. The name of the exercises, according to Pak, is a reference to Operation Desert Storm, the US-led military invasion of Iraq in 1990–1991 following its invasion of Kuwait.
The military reported that on Wednesday, one of the missiles landed barely 57 kilometers (35 miles) east of the South Korean mainland. 46 sailors, including 16 who were doing their conscription, were killed when a North Korean submarine destroyed the South Korean naval ship Cheonan in March 2010.
The same year, in November, the North shelled a South Korean border island, killing two marines—both of whom were teenage conscripts.
The launch was part of a recent barrage that Washington and Seoul have repeatedly warned could lead to another nuclear test, Pyongyang’s eighth, and which the North claims were tactical nuclear drills. An amphibious naval exercise that lasted 12 days came before the Vigilant Storm air drills.
Only 12 nautical miles of the sea that borders a country’s territory can be claimed by that nation under international law. With regard to North Korea, Mr. Yoon has made it a point to be harsh. Three hours later, three precise air-to-ground missiles were launched by the South from airplanes over the eastern seaboard of North Korea.
The firings reflect a significant uptick in hostilities on the peninsula this year, which has already seen more than 50 missile launches from North Korea, one of which was a ballistic missile that flew over Japan.
As part of the joint US-South Korean drills that started in August, a US nuclear-powered submarine arrived off the coast of South Korea on Monday.
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