The South Korean military said Wednesday North Korea launched the highest number of short-range missiles in a day as Seoul retaliated to Pyongyang’s latest barrage of weapons tests, further escalating tensions in the region.
North Korea fired as many as 23 missiles of different types to the east and west of the Korean Peninsula, including a surface-to-air missile into the waters off the east and west coasts of the Korean Peninsula, according to the South Korean Defense Ministry.
One of the missiles launched by Pyongyang was a short-range ballistic missile that landed close to South Korean territorial waters for the first time since the division of Korea, Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.
JCS said the missile landed in international waters 167 kilometers (104 miles) northwest of South Korea’s Ulleung island, about 26 kilometers south of the Northern Limit Line (NLL) – the de facto inter-Korean maritime border that North Korea does not recognize.
Japan’s Defense Ministry said North Korea conducted another launch later on Wednesday, including at least one more ballistic missile toward the east that has fallen into the sea outside of Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
The ballistic missile flew a short distance at a maximum altitude of less than 50 km, Toshiro Ino, the deputy minister of defense, told reporters on Wednesday evening local time.
“North Korea has rapidly escalated its provocations, launching more than a dozen missiles today alone and reportedly firing more than 100 artillery shells into the Japan sea since announcing an extremely provocative statement earlier in the day” Ino said.
No damage to aircraft or vessels has been confirmed as of now.
When asked whether North Korea had in the past launched this many missiles throughout a day, Ino told reporters that in 2006 and 2009 the North had fired several missiles throughout the day from 3 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time, and 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. local time, respectively, without mentioning an exact number of missiles.
A South Korean defense official said earlier the missiles landed to the west of the peninsula in the Yellow Sea, known as the West Sea in Korea, and to the east in the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea.
An air raid warning on Ulleung island, located about 120 kilometers east of the peninsula, was lifted about 2 p.m. local time on Wednesday. South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said the North Korean test was an “effective territorial encroachment.”
At an emergency National Security Council (NSC) me