SEOUL: Seoul’s military reported that North Korea launched at least one “unspecified ballistic missile” on Saturday, just days after five drones from Pyongyang crossed the shared border and entered South Korean airspace.
This year, the North has conducted an unprecedented flurry of weapons tests, including the launch of its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile ever last month, which has contributed to the sharp rise in military tensions on the Korean peninsula.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Saturday that “North Korea fires an unidentified ballistic missile into (the) East Sea,” which is also known as the Sea of Japan.
The South Korean military deployed fighter jets and attack helicopters in response to the Monday intrusion by the drones, one of which flew close to Seoul, the capital.
However, despite a five-hour operation, the military was unable to bring down a single drone, resulting in widespread criticism of the response and an apology from the defense minister of the nation.
The incident was described as “intolerable” by Yoon Suk-yeol, the president of South Korea, who added that the South should make sure Pyongyang understood that “provocations are always met with harsh consequences.”
After that, on Thursday, the military in Seoul held drills that, according to the country’s top brass, would enhance its defenses against future drone provocations.
On Monday, North Korean drones entered South Korean airspace for the first time in five years.
At a party meeting earlier this year, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared the North to be an “irreversible” nuclear state and stated that he wanted his nation to have the most powerful nuclear arsenal in the world.
Kim and other high-ranking members of the North Korean party are currently holding a major party meeting in Pyongyang, where they are outlining their policy goals for 2023 in important areas like diplomacy, security, and the economy.
State media at the time reported that Kim had established “new key goals” for the nation’s military on Wednesday, without providing any specifics.
The regime typically uses the end-of-year plenary meetings in North Korea to announce the country’s domestic and foreign policy priorities for the upcoming year.
Following its conclusion, the plenary’s full details are anticipated to be released.
Analysts are generally anticipating a shift in tone to highlight the military front this year in light of the recent blitz of missile launches, even though Kim focused on the economy at the 2021 plenary.
Kim used to give a speech every January 1, but he stopped doing that recently and now makes announcements at the year-end plenary meeting.
South Korea and the United States have been warning Pyongyang for months that it is getting ready to conduct its seventh nuclear test.
Since 2006, North Korea’s nuclear and missile activities have resulted in multiple sanctions from the UN Security Council.