North Korea fires fourth missile in a week as South Korean President visits Japan

Amrutha Pagad
Amrutha PagadMar 16, 2023 | 14:02

North Korea fires fourth missile in a week as South Korean President visits Japan

North Korea tests missile as South Korean President heads to Tokyo. File Photo: AFP

North Korea test-launched another missile across the eastern waters of the sea between the Korean peninsula and Japan on Thursday (March 16). This was a long-range missile test launched from Pyongyang and the fourth missile launch in just a week's time. 


But why is this one important to note?

Kim Jong-un, North Korea's dictator, has been launching multiple missiles quite frequently since the last year. So, the recent missile test doesn't really surprise the world as much, but it definitely worries a lot of countries. In fact, the recent missile test is particularly worrying due to a few other factors. 

  • The test launch came just hours before South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol was to fly to Japan to meet his counterpart Fumio Kishida. 
  • This is the first bilateral summit between Tokyo and Seoul in 12 years. 
  • Seoul and Tokyo have been taking steps to mend their relationship after years of butting heads over Japan's colonial era impact on South Korea.
  • South Korea and Japan are trying to bolster ties in the face of increasing threats to the region from North Korea and China, something the US has welcomed. 

  • The test also came as the US and South Korea continue their joint naval drills. 
  • Kim Jong-un has been critical of Washington and Seoul's closeness. He ordered his military to be ready to face off what he called "frantic war preparations" by Pyongyang's enemies.
  • Yet another important factor was that the missile was a long-range ICBM, unlike the often-used shorter-range missiles by Pyongyang. 
  • The ICBMs are feared to have the ability to reach even the mainland US. 
  • Just less than a month ago, North Korea's ICBM test launch triggered a UN emergency meeting. 

The launch:

  • The missile is said to have flown higher than 6,000 km for nearly 70 minutes before landing in the sea west of Japan.
  • It was launched at around 7:10 am (local time). 
  • The missile landed outside Japan's exclusive economic zone. 

How did South Korea and Japan respond?

  • South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol held an emergency security meeting before leaving for Tokyo. He ordered to continue the ongoing exercises with US forces.
North Korea's reckless provocations will pay a clear price.
- Yoon Suk-yeol, South Korean President

Japan PM Fumio Kishida said:

We must further strengthen cooperation among the allies and like-minded countries.

North Korea's arsenal: 

While the exact size and strength of North Korea's nuclear and other arsenal are unclear. According to reports, Pyongyang last carried out nuclear weapons tests in 2017. But it started work at the main nuclear-material production site, the Yongbyon reactor complex in 2021, after briefly shutting it down in 2018 following summits with the US and South Korea. 

North Korea is also believed to have developed ICBMs capable of carrying multiple warheads. Overall, North Korea led by a highly unpredictable dictator is equipped with destructive weapons and has showcased the arsenal several times during parades as well.

Last updated: March 16, 2023 | 14:18
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