The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) continued its string of missile tests into October, carrying out its fifth test in the last two weeks.
The South Korean military said on Tuesday morning it had detected a new ballistic missile launch from the DPRK headed toward the Sea of Japan, which Koreans call the East Sea. It later identified the missile as a medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM), a category of weapons with a maximum range of between 1,000 and 3,000 kilometers (620 and 1,860 miles).
Japanese officials also detected the launch and issued a warning to residents of the northern island of Hokkaido and the northern Honshu province of Aomori to “seek shelter immediately.” In 2017, the socialist state fired two long-range ballistic missiles over Hokkaido, which splashed down harmlessly in the Pacific Ocean on the other side.
An alert issued a few minutes later said the missile “is believed to have passed through the Pacific Ocean” and advised people not to touch anything suspicious they might find. The missile fell outside Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), 3,000 kilometers from the Japanese coast, the Japanese government said. That is more than half the distance from Japan to the US coastline, and a greater range than the South Korean military assigned to the projectile.
According to Japanese media reports, the Japanese Security Council will hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday.
The DPRK has test-fired six missiles in four previous launches over the last week, the most recent of which was Saturday, when they splashed down harmlessly in international waters.
Pyongyang has aroused the ire of South Korea, Japan, and the United States for its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs, which they say destabilize the region.
However, the isolated socialist state says it needs the weapons to guarantee its security in the absence of a permanent peace treaty with Seoul and Washington. The 1950-53 Korean War, which devastated the DPRK and killed more than 2 million Koreans, only ended with a ceasefire.