North Korea – During the weekend, state media said that two missiles went off from a submarine near North Korea’s east coast.
The move was intended to demonstrate the country’s commitment to conducting “the strongest counteraction” to the largest joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States, which start on Monday.
According to Pyongyang’s official KCNA news agency, the strategic cruise missiles were fired early Sunday morning.
They were fired from the submarine “8.24 Yongung,” which was moored in the Sea of Japan (the East Sea in Korea).
In addition, the ship was used to test North Korea’s first submarine-launched missile in 2016.
The launch on Sunday comes only 24 hours before Washington and Seoul’s springtime joint military drills begin on Monday.
It is now the most visible wargame the two countries have held in over half a decade.
The exercise and reception
According to an earlier release from US Forces Korea (USFK), the 11-day Freedom Shield drill would blend “live exercise” portions with constructive simulations.
According to KCNA, North Korea would take stern actions against the US and its supporters’ most despicable schemes.
Pyongyang has issued many warnings about the upcoming exercise.
Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong Un’s sister, declared last month that North Korea is watching every move and responding with proportional, strong, and overwhelming counteractions to the country’s “hostile” conduct.
North Korea launches missiles whenever the United States and South Korea conduct joint military drills, with more venomous rhetoric.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) of South Korea confirmed on Sunday that North Korea launched at least one unidentified missile from a submarine.
It was in South Hamgyong Province, near the harbor city of Sinpo.
The missiles flew for over an hour at a speed of 932 miles, according to KCNA (1,500 kilometers).
Before reaching a goal, it also produced figure-of-eight patterns.
According to KCNA, the Central Military Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea pronounced the drill a success.
Meanwhile, JCS confirmed that US and South Korean intelligence organizations are looking into the incident.
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On Thursday, North Korea launched six short-range missiles aiming towards the Yellow Sea.
Three days later, the rockets were launched.
According to official media reports this week, Kim Jong Un directed the artillery units to prepare for two missions:
“First, to deter war, and second, to take the initiative in war, by steadily intensifying various simulated drills for real war.”
Pyongyang is holding winter training and intelligence authority in the United States, according to a South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman, which South Korea will monitor.
North Korea is not the only country that conducts frequent air drills; the United States and South Korea have also conducted likewise.
A US B-52 bomber was followed by South Korean fighter jets when it went into South Korea’s air defense identification zone last week, according to USFK.
The exercises will very certainly be the largest in recent memory.
In 2017, when then-President Donald Trump tried to open the door for North Korea to negotiate ending its long-range missile and nuclear weapons programs, allies suspended military exercises.
Yet, the door has long been closed.
A year ago, North Korea conducted a record number of missile tests as part of their pledge to create a nuclear program to weaponize the rockets.
Despite a reduction in missile testing in 2023, tensions on the Korean Peninsula continued to increase.
Analysts do not expect things to improve anytime soon.
On Thursday, Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, remarked on the missile launch, saying:
“This is likely only the beginning of a series of provocative tests by North Korea.”
“Pyongyang is poised to respond aggressively to major US-South Korea defense exercises, as well as to President Yoon’s upcoming summits with (Japanese) Prime Minister (Fumio) Kishida and (US) President (Joe) Biden.”
“The Kim regime may order missile firings of longer ranges, attempt a spy satellite launch, demonstrate a solid-fuel engine, and perhaps even conduct a nuclear test.”
Image source: PBS