People watch the news at a station in Seoul, South Korea, 24 March 2023. EFE-EPA FILE/JEON HEON-KYUN

North Korea launches two short-range ballistic missiles: Seoul

Seoul, Mar 27 (EFE).- North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan on Monday in a new response to the military drills Seoul and Washington are carrying out in the south of the Korean Peninsula.

People watch the news at a station in Seoul, South Korea, 24 March 2023. EFE-EPA FILE/JEON HEON-KYUN

The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said it detected the launches from Chunghwa county area in North Hwanghae province from around 7.47 am and that they flew some 370 kilometers before splashing into the sea.

A photo released by the official North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows a cruise missile exercise conducted in Jakdo-dong, South Hamgyong Province, North Korea, 22 March 2023 (issued 24 March 2023). EFE-EPA FILE/KCNA EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Japan’s defense ministry also reported the firing of two ballistic missiles on Monday morning, which it said fell outside of its exclusive economic zone, according to public broadcaster NHK.

Tokyo has convened an emergency meeting of top officials on the matter.

This is the 11th North Korean launch carried out this year, half of them carried out in retaliation for South Korea and the US conducting their largest joint military drills since 2018.

The allies wrapped up their Freedom Shield command post exercises last Thursday, but are still holding drills under the Warrior Shield field training exercises.

As part of the latter, South Korea and the US last week mobilized F-35, F-15, F-16 and F-4 stealth fighters as well as an A-10 attack aircraft for a series of maneuvers.

In the coming days it is expected that a US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier will join the exercises in the southern waters of the peninsula.

The latest North Korean weapons test comes after Pyongyang reported Friday that it recently tested an underwater drone capable of generating nuclear tsunamis, just like the Russian Poseidon system.

Although many analysts doubt that the Kim Jong-un regime was able to develop such a sophisticated weapon in a short time, the announcement represents a significant new gesture by Pyongyang, which has greatly developed and diversified its arsenal in the last five years.

The peninsula is experiencing high tension after 2022 in which North Korea, which has rejected offers to return to dialogue, carried out a record number of weapons tests and in which the allies once again carried out large maneuvers and deployed military assets to the peninsula. EFE