North Korea launched seven surface-to-air missiles on Thursday, aiming them into the sea off the country’s east coast as Kim Jong-un reportedly observed, according to South Korea’s defense ministry.
The missiles were launched Thursday evening from a site near the town of Sondok, according to the Agence France-Presse. South Korean officials noted that the missiles fell into the sea, pointing out that North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, was on hand to witness the test.
“We believe they test-fired different kinds of surface-to-air missiles and the longest range is about 200 km (125 miles),” officials noted. “It appears Kim Jong Un [sic] observed the firing.”
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) March 13, 2015
The missile test is widely thought to be a reaction to joint military exercises taking place between the United States and South Korea. As Reuters points out, the first of two major exercises, Key Resolve, concluded on Friday. The second exercise, Foal Eagle, is set to continue until April 24.
The Pentagon responded to the missile test by issuing a statement, delivered by Army Colonel Steve Warren, in which it urged North Korea to refocus its energies on less provocative goals.
“We encourage them to stop bombing fish and to begin feeding their own people,” Warren said.
— CP24 (@CP24) March 13, 2015
As the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a ceasefire instead of a peace treaty, the two nations remain technically at war, a state of affairs that guarantees the annual military exercises are a contentious occurrence. When this year’s exercises began, North Korea engaged in a similar spectacle, launching two scud missiles off the country’s east coast, as the Inquisitr previously reported.
Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, asserted that the timing of the missile launch was intentional, as was the intensity of the display.
“This is a pretty low-intensity show of force, timed to coincide with the wrap-up of the Key Resolve exercise,” he noted.
— The Independent (@Independent) March 13, 2015
On Thursday, North Korean media announced that Kim Jong-un had inspected military installations on the east coast, accompanied by his sister, Kim Yo-jong. The report, however, made no mention of the missile tests conducted by North Korea.
[Photo by Chung Sung-Jun / Getty Images]