On Wednesday morning, November 2, KST, North Korea launched around ten missiles from its eastern and western coasts, three of which were short-range ballistic missiles. According to the South Korean military, one of those ended up landing in waters further south than ever before.
This is the first time since the country’s division in 1948 that a North Korean missile has crossed the de facto maritime border between the two countries. Around 6:51 am, the military detected four unidentified projectiles fired off the west coast from North Pyongan Province area, which later turned out to be short-range ballistic missiles. Three more followed from Wonsan, Kangwon Province, around 8:51 am off the country’s east coast.
At around 8:55 am, the South Korean military sounded a rare air-raid alarm on the remote Ulleung Island off the country’s east coast and warned people to evacuate their homes and move to air-raid shelters. The short-range missile landed less than 60 kilometers away from South Korea’s coast.
The South soon responded by firing three air-to-ground missiles toward the north side of the maritime border between 11:10 am and 12:21 pm. A military official said, “Though one (North Korean) missile crossed the NLL, we fired three missiles to show our willingness (to respond in a determined manner) and capability.”
The air-raid warning was lifted by 2 pm and replaced with a security alert, asking people to stand by and stay prepared to evacuate. The attack also caused the closure of several air routes and tourist sites in the Gangwon-do province. Flights with layovers in Japan also got canceled for the next 24 hours.
The tension between the two countries escalated after the United States and South Korea began Vigilant Storm, one of their largest combined military air drills, on Monday, with hundreds of warplanes from both sides staging mock attacks 24 hours a day. A day later, Pyongyang warned Seoul and Washington that these provocations could cause more powerful follow-up measures.
The increasing number of test fires from North Korea is being seen as a concern by both the U.S. and South Korea. According to Cheong Seong Chang, a researcher at the Sejong Institute, Wednesday’s incident was Pyongyang’s most aggressive armed demonstration against the South since 2010. “It is now a dangerous and unstable situation that could lead to armed conflicts,” he concluded.