North Korea Fires More Weapons; Criticizes South Korea
SEOUL, (WILLIAM GALLO-VOANEWS).- North Korea has launched a fresh round of short-range weapons into the sea off its east coast, South Korea’s military reported - Pyongyang’s latest apparent outburst of anger at continued U.S.-South Korean military drills.
The North fired two “unidentified projectiles” Friday from Gangwon province in the northeast part of North Korea, according to a statement from Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff. The weapons traveled about 230 kilometers, reaching a height of 30 kilometers, the statement said.
North Korea has conducted six launches in about the past three weeks. Combined with a series of aggressive statements toward South Korea, the launches mark a return to a more provocative stance for Pyongyang, which has refused to hold talks with Seoul or Washington.
Following an emergency meeting Friday, South Korea’s National Security Council called on North Korea to stop the launches and warned that such activity may increase military tensions.
Though it isn’t clear what North Korea launched Friday, the North’s other recent tests involved short-range ballistic missiles that appear designed to evade U.S.-South Korean missile defenses.
North Korea is banned from any ballistic missile activity under United Nations Security Council resolutions. But U.S. President Donald Trump says he has "no problem" with the missile tests, saying they can't reach the United States.
Last week, Trump said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un offered a "small apology" for the launches and vowed to stop them as soon as the current round of U.S.-South Korean military exercises end.
This round of drills is scheduled to end Aug. 20.
North Korea has long complained that the drills are aggressive. U.S. military leaders say the exercises are defensive and necessary to maintain readiness.
Trump last week called the drills "ridiculous and expensive," but said he signed off on the latest round because it helped prepare for "the turnover of various areas to South Korea."
"I like that because it should happen," Trump said.
The current drills are designed in part to test South Korea's ability to retake operational control from the U.S. during wartime.
Though the drills have been scaled back and renamed in an attempt to preserve the idea of talks, North Korea is still not happy and wants the drills to end completely.
North Korea has directed most of its recent outbursts toward its neighbors in the South.
On Friday, the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) took aim at South Korean President Moon Jae-in, calling him an "impudent guy" and a "funny man."
"We have nothing to talk any more with the South Korean authorities nor have any idea to sit with them again," said the statement, which quoted a spokesperson at the semi-official Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country.
The comments come a day after President Moon pledged to work toward the unification of the two Koreas by 2045 — a bold proposal for a leader who is set to leave office in 2022.
Moon and Kim met three times in 2018, promising to bring in a new era of inter-Korean relations. Those talks have since broken down, amid North Korean complaints about continued military cooperation between South Korea and the United States.
In his speech Thursday, the anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War Two, Moon insisted a unified Korea would become a global world power and eventually overtake Japan economically.
North Korea doesn't seem very impressed. KCNA on Friday called Moon's remarks a "foolish commemorative speech" that was enough to "make the boiled head of a cow provoke a side-splitting laughter."