North Korea fired an unidentified ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan on Sunday, said the South Korean army, which is conducting a joint military exercise with the United States.
In a statement, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it was trying to analyze the distance, height and speed of the missile’s flight, data that has not yet been released.
Japan’s Ministry of Defense also confirmed the launch from Pyongyang, noting that it was gathering information about the test and the potential impact on Japanese waters.
On Saturday, North Korea’s official KCNA news agency said that more than 800,000 young people had voluntarily joined the North Korean army on Friday alone to fight “the American imperialists”.
According to KCNA, hundreds of thousands of people lined up in response to joint US-South Korean military exercises, the biggest in five years, which the agency described as an attempt to “provoke nuclear war”.
On Friday, North Korea confirmed that it had launched an international ballistic missile the day before, its second this year. The launch was in response to “frantic” US and South Korean military exercises, KCNA said.
According to the news agency, the missile launched on Thursday towards the Sea of Japan was a Hwasong-17, a “monster missile”, considered military analysts, and which theoretically has enough range to reach the American continent.
The US and South Korean military exercises, dubbed the “Shield of Freedom”, began on March 13 and will last for ten days. According to the two countries, the exercises focus on the “changing security environment” due to North Korea’s growing aggressiveness.
Last year, Pyongyang declared itself an “irreversible” nuclear power and the North Korean leader recently called for an “exponential” increase in weapons production, including tactical nuclear weapons.
Already in early March, Kim Jong-un ordered the North Korean military to intensify exercises in preparation for a “real war”.
Speaking to Agence France-Presse, the president of the North Korean Studies University in Seoul, Yang Moo-jin, said that Pyongyang is using the US exercises to present its nuclear weapons program as “crucial and necessary”. .
That situation “spreads the idea that the exercises by the US and North Korea are ultimately aimed at destroying the current North Korean regime and occupying its capital,” he added.