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View more articles by Dagyum Ji
Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
North Korea attempted to launch a missile from the eastern coastal city of Wonsan on Wednesday but appears to have failed, South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) has said.
“North Korea fired off one projectile of the missile nearby Wonsan airbase this morning (March 22, Wednesday), but it is presumed to have failed,” the MND said in a statement. “The United States and South Korea are aware of the issue, and [our] understanding is that the North’s missile wasn’t launched in a normal way.”
“U.S. Pacific Command detected what we assess was a failed North Korean missile launch attempt the morning of March 22 in Korea (12:49 PM Hawaii-time,) in the vicinity of Kalma,” Commander David Benham, a spokesman for U.S. Pacific Command, said.
“A missile appears to have exploded within seconds of launch. We are working with our Interagency partners on a more detailed assessment. We continue to monitor North Korea’s actions closely.”
The MND’s announcement came less than one hour after a Kyodo News Agency report that the DPRK launched several missiles earlier in the day from the eastern area of Wonsan but had failed, a report which cited an unnamed Japanese government source.
Meanwhile, Kim Hong-kyun, a South Korean special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs held talks with his U.S. counterpart Joseph Yun, special representative for North Korea policy and deputy assistant secretary for Korea, in Seoul at 1100 KST.
South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said on Tuesday the two would conduct an in-depth discussion on ways to deal with the North Korean nuclear program. The issue of increasing cooperation with China to strengthen sanctions and pressure on the North was the main focus of the conversation.
North Korea has ramped up military pressure as the U.S. and the South have conducted their annual joint Key Resolve and Foal Eagle military exercises.
Foal Eagle (FE) is a field training exercise (FTX) which aims to develop capabilities for ROK-U.S. combined operations. It began on March 1 and will continue until April 30, according to the South Korean Prime Minister’s Office.
Key Resolve (KR), a command post exercise (CPE) (one which focuses on headquarter staff preparedness) began yesterday and will continue until March 23.
The annual exercises have provoked a flurry of missile-related activity from Pyongyang.
Kim Jong Un observed the ground jet test of a new high-thrust rocket engine on early Saturday morning. DPRK state media said the newest engine was “another miracle” in the history of the country’s national defense industry, and that it had used a much higher thrust compared to previous models.
On March 6, the DPRK launched a salvo of four missiles towards the Sea of Japan (known in Korea as the East Sea).
Three landed within Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), with the missiles flying around 1,000 kilometers before splashing down some 250 km west of the Akita Prefecture. South Korea’s Joint Chief of Staff (JCS) confirmed that North Korea had launched a variant of Scud missiles.
The North on February 12 launched a new type of solid-fuel intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) using technology related to submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM).
In 2016, the DPRK test-fired Musudan missiles eight times from April 15 until October 20, but succeeded only once in a launch on June 22. The Musudan missile, also known as the BM-25 or Hwasong-10, has an estimated range of between 2,500-4,000 kilometers and an estimated payload capacity of 1,000-1,250 kilograms.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Feature image: Wikimedia Commons