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North Korea fired more than 10 missiles on Wednesday, including at points near the South Korean borders. South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol called these missile launches an “effective land invasion.”

One of the missiles fired, a short-range ballistic missile, crossed the Northern Boundary Line, the de facto maritime border between the two countries, and South Korea declared a warning to the inhabitants of the island of Ulleungdo to take shelter in the bunkers. It’s the first time a North Korean missile has come this close to South Korean territorial waters since the peninsula was partitioned in the Korean War in 1953, the military said.

“President Yoon pointed out today that North Korea’s provocation is an effective territorial invasion of a missile that has crossed the Northern Border Line for the first time since partition,” the statement said. The military said the closest missile to South Korea had landed in waters just 57 kilometres east of the mainland. The military published a statement calling the missile fired near South Korea’s territorial waters “very rare and intolerable”. The army promised to respond harshly to this provocation. Shortly thereafter, the South Korean military said it had fired three air-to-surface missiles at the same spot on the maritime border where North Korea had landed. An airstrike warning was reported for Ulleungdo after North Korea fired the missile. A warning was published on national television and the public of Ulleungdo were told to “evacuate to the nearest underground bunker”.

The South Korean Army’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it first detected three short-range ballistic missile launches. However, he later announced that North Korea had fired more than 10 missiles of various types. Yoon Suk-yeol convened a meeting of the National Security Council over the launchings and instructed that swift and drastic measures be taken so that North Korea’s provocations pay a clear price. Following the missile launches, Japan confirmed that North Korea had launched missiles, while Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters that he plans to hold a national security meeting as soon as possible. South Korea has closed some airlines over the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan, and advised local airlines to change routes to “ensure passenger safety on US and Japan routes.”

Pyongyang’s latest test firing came as Seoul and Washington held their largest-ever joint air exercises called “Awake Storm,” involving hundreds of warplanes from both sides. Pak Jong Chon, a senior North Korean official, said the operations were aggressive and provocative, according to a report in state media on Wednesday. “If the United States and South Korea fearlessly attempt to use their armed forces against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the special vehicles of the North Korean armed forces will fulfil their strategic mission without delay. The United States and South Korea will have to pay the most horrific price in history,” Chon said.

North Korea’s missile launch on Wednesday was “the most aggressive and threatening armed demonstration against the South since 2010,” Cheong Seong-chang, a researcher at the Sejong Institute, told to AFP. Professor Park Won-gon of Ewha University told AFP, “As far as I can remember, North Korea, South Korea and the United States have never made such a provocation while they were conducting joint operations. Pyongyang seems to have completed its strongest deterrent. This is a serious threat. The North also He seems confident in their nuclear capabilities.” conveyed his words.

Missile firings are increasing in recent times, including Wednesday’s missile tests and other firings that the North says are tactical nuclear exercises. It is a matter of curiosity whether there will be a clear response from South Korea to these firings, or what South Korea’s measures will be.

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