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South Korea hits back at DPRK missile launch with display of its own — Analysis

Seoul and Washington have launched eight missiles in response to North Korea’s ‘provocation’

South Korea and the US launched eight ballistic missiles into the sea on Monday, as a response to Sunday’s massive launch by North Korea over the country’s eastern and western coasts.

The countries launched eight Army Tactical Missile System projectiles, one American and seven Korean, into the eastern waters of South Korea, according to Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and US Forces Korea.

The Korean military said the display – which lasted 10 minutes – was meant to showcase its ability to respond “Quickly and precisely” to North Korean attacks. 

Sunday’s North Korean launch, which also included eight short-range missiles, put the country’s neighbors on edge. US and South Korean diplomats condemned the North Korean display for violating UN Security Council resolutions.

Japan and the US conducted their own joint missile exercise hours after the DPRK’s move to show off their “Rapid response capabilities,” according to the Japanese Defense Ministry. Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi told reporters that the provocative display from the North “Could not be tolerated” even though none of the projectiles landed in Japanese waters.

According to South Korea’s estimates, the North Korean projectiles came from four places in 35 minutes. These were located from both western and eastern coast areas as well as two inland. They claimed that it was a record-breaking single day for DPRK ballistic launches.

The launch was Pyongyang’s 18th missile test of the year and followed on the heels of a US and South Korean joint drill involving the USS Ronald Reagan off the Okinawan coast, the South’s first drill involving an American aircraft carrier since 2017. 

Yoon Suk-yel, the South Korean president, and Joe Biden the US president have reached an agreement to intensify joint military exercises as a signal of deterrence towards the North. However Russia and China vetoed an attempt by the UN Security Council punishing the country for an alleged ICBM-launch on May 25. Another American aircraft carrier conducted exercises in the Yellow Sea following that launch, and Biden has vowed to send further “strategic assets” to the Korean Peninsula if requested by Seoul.

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While Yoon’s predecessor, Moon Jae-in, sought peace with his northern counterpart and Biden’s forerunner Donald Trump strived to finally make a deal with Washington’s nemesis in Pyongyang, neither leader managed to quench the long-smoldering hostilities. The DPRK has been firing off missiles at an alarming rate and tensions are rising again. Both South Korea and America have expressed concern that the DPRK may have plans to launch its first nuclear attack since September 2017.

Although the Korean War was over in 1953, no peace treaty between North Korea and South has been signed. This means that they technically remain at war.

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