The latest chapter in a tale of tensions between North and South Korea has opened with Seoul accusing Pyongyang of firing two short-range missiles off the east coast.
Their launch coincides with annual US-South Korean military drills involving tens of thousands of troops. Their northern neighbour denounces the exercises as a preparation for war.
A spokesperson for the South Korean military said the rockets were fired from the city of Nampo into the sea east of the Korean peninsula. They are said to have had a range of 490 kilometres.
The exercise provoked a swift reaction from Japan. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga labelled the launch “an extremely problematic action” saying “we swiftly lodged a stern protest with North Korea.”
“This ballistic missile launch by North Korea is an extremely problematic action for ensuring the safe passage of ships and aeroplanes,” said Suga. “And it violates the Pyongyang Declaration – an agreement between Japan and North Korea related to making joint efforts towards peace and security – Japan and North Korea agreed upon the joint declaration at the six-party talks and various United Nations Security Council resolutions. So, we swiftly lodged a stern protest with North Korea.”
Meanwhile, in South Korea, demonstrators gathered near to the US embassy in Seoul to rally against the joint military drills, dubbed Key Resolve and Foal Eagle.