North Korea shoots more projectiles, second time in one week

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North Korea shoots more projectiles, second time in one week

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A photo of North Korea's weapons test last Monday, released by Pyongyang's state media. [YONHAP]

North Korea fired at least three unidentified short-range projectiles toward the East Sea Monday morning, South Korean military officials said, a week after it test-launched what appeared to be two short-range ballistic missiles following a three-month break.

The three projectiles were fired at around 7:36 a.m. from Sondok-ri in South Hamgyong Province in the country’s northeastern region and traveled around 200 kilometers (124 miles) to waters between South Korea and Japan after peaking at an altitude of 50 kilometers, the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement.

The JCS initially said the North fired “three projectiles” but later changed its wording to “multiple short-range projectiles” after noticing what seemed to be a fourth flying object.

Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono said the “multiple projectiles” appeared not to have intruded into Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

CNN, citing an unidentified American official, said the North fired “four unidentified projectiles.”

South Korean military officials said they were discussing the launches with their U.S. counterparts for further analysis, adding it appeared the regime carried out the test as part of an annual winter military drill.

Pyongyang has yet to relay details about its latest test through its state media.

The Blue House convened a meeting at 8:15 a.m. Monday presided over by Chung Eui-yong, director of the National Security Office, and said the North’s test was “an action that does not help efforts to establish peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

The response was markedly dialed down from last week’s reaction, when the Blue House expressed “strong concern” about the North’s test and said it “urges” the North to “cease” such actions.

Kim Yo-jong, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s younger sister, slammed the Blue House for that reaction in a scathing statement on Tuesday evening, calling the South’s presidential office a “frightened dog” and an “imbecile” for criticizing its “action for self-defense.”

The regime said earlier last Tuesday via its Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) that North Korean leader Kim expressed “great satisfaction” with the “firepower strike drill” and the rapid reactions of the artillerymen responsible for the test.

Last week’s test was the first time North Korea conducted a weapons test this year, coming 95 days since its previous test on Nov. 28, when it fired two projectiles from its “super-large multiple launch rocket system (MLRS).”

BY LEE SUNG-EUN, JEONG YONG-SOO AND LEE CHUL-JAE [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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