North fires two missiles from its interior

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North fires two missiles from its interior

North Korea once again fired two short-range ballistic projectiles toward international waters, Seoul officials said yesterday, though this time it launched the missiles from the western region, instead of the east coast.

The projectiles, assumed to be Scud-C type missiles with a 500-kilometer (310-mile) range, were launched at 4 a.m. and 4:20 a.m., respectively, from an unidentified site near an air base field in Singye County, North Hwanghae Province, an official with South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters.

This is the 13th time this year that Pyongyang has test-fired various projectiles, about 90 in total, including the two assumed to be fired with a 300mm-caliber multiple rocket launcher on July 2, a day before the much-anticipated visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Seoul.

According to Seoul officials, North Korea is assumed to have fired similar type missiles on March 3 and June 29, though from a launch site near Wonsan, an eastern coastal city near the border in Kangwon Province.

On March 26, two medium-range projectiles, possibly Rodong missiles with a range of 650 kilometers, were launched from a site in South Pyongan, near the west coast. At the time, Seoul officials said the projectiles crossed North Korean territory, from the west to the east, and crashed into the East Sea.

“Usually, a ballistic missile is launched from [an eastern] coastal site, in case it drops to the ground,” a Seoul military official told reporters. “The regime did not even issue a warning on vessels sailing nearby.

“They usually launch projectiles near Wonsan, but starting last month, they moved to the west and fired them near Hungnam or Singye,” the official said. “It is apparently saber-rattling to show off its capacity, launching them at various sites.”

The military said the latest launches near Wonsan were apparently related to a business trip taken by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Based on reports by the state’s official Korean Central News Agency, Kim has been in Wonsan for the past two weeks conducting “field guidance trips” to military facilities and surveying artillery exercises by soldiers.

On Tuesday, he moved to Pyongyang to attend the ruling party’s ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of the death of his grandfather, Kim Il Sung.

Meanwhile, North Korea reported yesterday that a key party official, who had been in charge of military industry for decades, died of heart attack.

Jon Pyong-ho, 88, a four-star military general and honorary curator of the North Korean Army’s Museum of Weapons and Equipment, died of an acute myocardial infarction, the KCNA said in its English-language dispatch yesterday.

Born in Jonchon County, Jagang, Jon worked as the chief engineer at a munitions factory from the 1950s to the 1970s.

He was also engaged in munitions production during the 1950-53 Korean War, as well as the regime’s satellite and nuclear weapons program, the KCNA said.

The KCNA released the list of those on Jon’s funeral committee, with 88 high-ranking officials included in addition to Kim Jong-un.

Kim Yang-gon, a party secretary known to be a close aide to Kim’s condemned uncle, Jang Song-thaek, was still included in the list. However, the leader’s powerful aunt, Kim Kyong-hui, was excluded.

BY KIM HEE-JIN [heejin@joongang.co.kr]





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