SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea fired a ballistic missile toward the North’s eastern waters Saturday morning, South Korea’s military said.
It’s the first missile launch by North Korea in eight days, and comes five days after South Korea accused Pyongyang of flying five drones into South Korea’s airspace for the first time since 2017.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement it detected Saturday’s missile launch but gave no further details, such as the specific type of weapon the North fired or how far it travelled.
North Korea has test-fired more than 70 ballistic and cruise missiles this year. Some experts say North Korea is seeking to modernize its arsenal and increase its leverage in future dealings with the United States.
South Korean warplanes and helicopters failed to bring down any of the North Korean drones spotted south of the border before they flew back home or vanished from South Korean radar. One of them traveled as far as northern Seoul. That caused security jitters among many people in the South, for which the military offered a rare public apology Tuesday.
The launch came as North Korea is under a major ruling party meeting in Pyongyang to review past policies and new policy goals for 2023. Some observers say North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would reaffirm his vow to expand his nuclear arsenal and introduce sophisticated weapons in the name of dealing with what he calls U.S. hostility.