Seoul: On Wednesday, North Korea fired around 23 missiles into the sea, including one that landed less than 60 km (40 miles) off South Korea’s coast, which South’s President Yoon Suk-yeol described as territorial encroachment.
It was the first time a ballistic missile had landed near the South’s sea coast since the peninsula was divided in 1945, and most missiles were fired by the North in a single day. South Korea gave uncommon air attack alerts and launched its missiles in response.
The missile landed outside South Korea’s territorial waters, but south of the Northern Limit Line (NLL), a disputed inter-Korean maritime border. The South’s military said that South Korean warplanes terminated three air-to-ground missiles into the sea north across the NLL in response. An official said the weapons used included an AGM-84H/K SLAM-ER, which is a U.S.-made stand-off precision attack weapon that can fly for up to 270 km (170 miles) with a 360-kg (800-lb) warhead.
The South’s send-offs came after Yoon’s office promised a swift and firm response. Yoon’s office said in a statement “President Yoon Suk-yeol noted North Korea’s provocation today was an effective act of territorial encroachment by a missile intruding the NLL for the first time since (the two Koreas’) division.”
When asked whether the missile was flying towards the South’s domain and should have been intercepted, a senior presidential official said, “Strictly speaking, it did not land in our territory but in the Exclusive Economic Zone under our jurisdiction, therefore it was not subject to interception.”
The United States condemned the North’s missile launches and its foolish decision to fire a missile below the de facto maritime boundary with the Republic of Korea, a State Department representative said on Wednesday, using the South’s official name.
North Korea has ceaselessly been launching missiles over the past year in violation of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said.
“It’s unprecedented in the sense that there were so many,” she said of Wednesday’s launches.