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North Korea allegedly fired two short-range ballistic missiles, according to Seoul

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Shortly after Pyongyang warned of a “inevitable” retaliation to ongoing US-South Korea joint military manoeuvres, North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles, according to South Korea’s military on Thursday.

Currently, South Korea and the United States are conducting their most recent large-scale joint military drills, live-fire “annihilation” exercises, as a result of increased defence cooperation in response to mounting threats from the nuclear-armed North.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff in Seoul reported that it had observed the launch of “two short-range ballistic missiles from the Sunan area into the East Sea between 19:25 and 19:37 (1025 and 1037 GMT),” referring to the body of water also known as the Sea of Japan.

In addition, it stated, “We are maintaining readiness in close coordination with the United States and have increased monitoring in case of further provocations.”

Tokyo also confirmed the launch, with a defence ministry spokesman informing reporters that the two missiles had touched down in the exclusive economic zone of Japan.

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The North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, has declared his country to be a “irreversible” nuclear state and has called for increased weapon production, including the development of tactical nukes. As a result, relations between the two Koreas are at their lowest point in years. Diplomacy has stagnated.

Nuclear-armed This year, North Korea has performed a number of launches that violated sanctions, including test-firing some of its most potent intercontinental ballistic missiles and attempting to launch a military surveillance satellite last month.

In reaction, the hawkish government of South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol has increased defence cooperation with the US, boosting joint drills that had been pulled back because to Covid-19 and during an unsuccessful diplomatic effort.

Yoon personally observed the live-fire drills Thursday between US and South Korean soldiers.

All of these exercises enrage Pyongyang, which sees them as invasion drills.

A spokesperson for the North Korean defence ministry condemned the drills in a statement released on Thursday, calling them an attempt to “target the DPRK by massively mobilising various types of offensive weapons and equipment.”

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They also stated in the statement, which was published by the official Korean Central News Agency, “Our response to this is unavoidable.”

They continued by saying that the drills were “escalating the military tension in the region” and sounded the alarm by announcing that “our armed forces will fully counter any form of demonstrative moves and provocation of the enemies.”

Lawsuit

South Korea sued North Korea on Wednesday in an effort to recover damages for the 2020 demolition of a liaison office.

As South Korea’s then-president Moon Jae-in pushed for a diplomatic breakthrough with Pyongyang, the office was set up in 2018 with funds from Seoul at an industrial zone close to the border in North Korean territory.

However, once that procedure failed and the situation worsened, North Korea destroyed the structure in June 2020.

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The country’s Unification Ministry referred to the demolition as “clearly an illegal act” and stated that Seoul was pursuing damages of 44.7 billion won ($35 million).

Even though North Korea is likely to disregard any judgement from the court, doing so has happened in the past in South Korea and the US.

Choi Gil-il, a professor of military studies at Sangji University, told AFP that given the time, it appeared that the launch was the North’s way of expressing its displeasure or protest over Seoul’s legal action seeking damages for the North’s demolition of the Kaesong office.

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