North Korea on Wednesday fired at least 10 ballistic missiles in a single day apparently in retaliation to the ongoing combined air drills by South Korea and the US.
According to the South Korean military, Pyongyang also fired its first missile into an area close to the South’s territorial waters since the division of the peninsula more than seven decades ago, Yonhap News Agency reported.
“North Korea’s missile launch, which marks the first time since the division of the peninsula, near our territorial waters south of the Northern Limit Line is very rare and intolerable,” the agency reported citing a South Korean military statement.
Pyongyang fired at least 10 various types of missiles, including three short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs), off its west and east coasts Wednesday morning, according to the joint chiefs of staff.
“Our military vowed to respond firmly to this (provocation),” it added.
Later, the joint chiefs of staff confirmed that the South Korean military also responded and fired three air-to-surface missiles into the high seas north of the Northern Limit Line (NLL), a de facto maritime inter-Korean border dividing the two countries.
It’s for the first time in seven decades that North Korea fired a missile that flew across the NLL.
North Korea’s latest missile launch came after the US and South Korean forces launched their large-scale five-day joint air drills on Monday.
The combined air drills were first held in 2015 and later suspended by the administration of then-President Moon Jae-in in 2018 as part of a drive for inter-Korean reconciliation.
This time the Australian air force is also taking part in the exercises.
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have risen following recent military drills by South Korea and the US as well as North Korean missile tests.
On Friday, Pyongyang launched an “unspecified” ballistic missile just as South Korea was about to wrap up its annual 12-day Hoguk field training exercise, local media reported, citing a military statement.
North Korea recently also fired a short-range ballistic missile into the East Sea, just two days after launching two long-range strategic cruise missiles involving units operating “tactical nukes.”
On Oct. 4, the US and South Korean forces held live-fire joint drills after North Korea fired a missile over Japan for the first time in five years.
Tensions in the region began in 2020 when North Korea attacked and blew up the inter-Korean liaison office along the border.