SEOUL, Nov 2 (2022) – North Korea fired at least 23 missiles into the sea on Wednesday, including one that landed less than 60 km (40 miles) off South Korea’s coast, which the South’s President Yoon Suk-yeol described as “territorial encroachment”.
It was the first time a ballistic missile had landed near the South’s waters since the peninsula was divide in 1945, and the most missiles fired by the North in a single day. South Korea issued rare air raid warnings and launched its own missiles in response.
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-ground 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 U.S.-made “stand-off” precision attack weapon that can fly for up to 270 km (170 miles) with a 360-kg (800-lb) warhead.
The South’s launches came after Yoon’s office vowed a “swift and firm response”.
“President Yoon Suk-yeol noted North Korea’s provocation today was an effective act of territorial encroachment by a missile intruding the NLL for the first time since (the two Koreas’) division,” his office said in a statement.
When asked whether the missile was flying towards the South’s territory and should have been intercept, a senior presidential official said: “Strictly speaking, it did not land in our territory but in the Exclusive Economic Zone under our jurisdiction, therefore it was not subject to interception.”
AIR RAID SIRENS
That missile was one of three short-range ballistic missiles fire 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 fire from North Korea’s east and west coasts.
The JCS said at least one of the missiles land 26 km south of the NLL, 57 km from the South Korean city of Sokcho, on the east coast, and 167 km from the island of Ulleung, where air raid warnings were sounded.
“We heard the siren at around 8:55 a.m. and all of us in the building went down to the evacuation place in the basement,” an Ulleung county official told Reuters. “We stayed there until we came upstairs at around 9:15 after hearing that the projectile fell into the high seas.”
The North also fired more than 100 rounds of artillery from its east coast into a military buffer zone established in a military agreement with the South, South Korea’s military said.
The firing violates a 2018 agreement banning hostile acts in border areas, the JCS said.
North and South Korea are technically still at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
Nuclear-armed North Korea has tested a record number of missiles this year, and officials in Seoul and Washington say the North has completed technical preparations to conduct a nuclear weapon test for the first time since 2017.