North and South Korea Test Ballistic Missiles Hours Apart

North Korea's Hwasong-12 ballistic missile.
Credit: KCNA

Less than a week after firing its first locally developed cruise missile, North Korea has again fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea.

Hours later, South Korea conducted a second launch of its submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) in the space of a week, this time witnessed by President Moon Jae-in. 

According to the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), the two North Korean ballistic missiles were fired from the North’s central county of Yangdok at 12:34 p.m. and 12:39 p.m. They flew around 800 km (500 mi.) at a maximum altitude of around 60 km. The launch also was monitored by Japanese authorities, who later said the North Korean missiles fell outside of their exclusive economic zone. 

The JCS did not specify the type of missile used, but Pyongyang’s short-to-medium-range ballistic missile stable includes the Scud-Extended Range family of missiles, which have been reverse-engineered and produced locally as the Hwasong-9 and later the Nodong-1. It is also common for Pyongyang to test fire larger intercontinental missiles that land at a shorter pre-determined range. 

Meanwhile, the Republic of Korea Navy successfully completed the test fire of its Hyunmoo 4-4 conventional SLBM from the Dosan Ahn Chang-ho diesel electric submarine. Unlike the ejection tests a week earlier, the Wednesday test “flew a planned distance and precisely hit a target” according to a statement from the South Korean president’s office, known as the Blue House. 

“Possessing an SLBM has significant meaning in securing deterrence against omnidirectional threats, and it is expected to play a key role in building self-defense capability and peace on the Korean peninsula,” the Blue House stated.

Chen Chuanren

Chen Chuanren is the Southeast Asia and China Editor for the Aviation Week Network’s (AWN) Air Transport World (ATW) and the Asia-Pacific Defense Correspondent for AWN, joining the team in 2017.