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North Korea likely to launch ballistic missile before year-end: spy agency

North Korea is highly likely to launch different types of ballistic missiles before the end of this year to underline its nuclear threats, South Korea’s spy agency said Monday.

Active movements are continuously being spotted around the missile development institutes in North Korea and it has also conducted engine tests for missiles, the National Intelligence Service told lawmakers in a closed-door parliamentary meeting. 

Hwang Pyong-so (left) and Kim Won-hong (Yonhap)
Hwang Pyong-so (left) and Kim Won-hong (Yonhap)

“While there has not been any imminent sign of conducting nuclear tests in the Punggye-ri test site, the NIS sees it is possible for the North to conduct one anytime -- whenever Kim Jong-un makes the decision,” Rep. Yi Wan-young, of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party and a member of the Intelligence Committee, told reporters after a session at the National Assembly.

According to the NIS, the second portal at the Punggye-ri test site has been left inactive, but the third portal appears to be fully ready for a detonation. The construction of the fourth portal has recently been resumed, the lawmaker added, citing an NIS briefing.

The intelligence agency also reported the communist regime has conducted a rare inspection of military personnel for their “haughty attitudes,” which appears to be a first in two decades.

“North’s leadership is conducting an inspection on their military’s General Political Bureau. The NIS said they found out that Hwang Pyong-so and Kim Won-hong, the bureau’s chief and deputy chief, were punished,” Rep. Kim Byung-kee of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea said. While he confirmed that the agency is aware of the level of punishment, he said it cannot be revealed.

Rep. Kim explained that the censorship was led by Choe Ryong-hae, the vice chairman of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, and that it is not a complete overhaul of the military body.

North Korea is also making great efforts to secure the livelihoods of people following stricter international sanctions recently imposed. They came up with a daily report system to watch over living difficulties, and have banned people from drinking and holding private gatherings, the lawmaker said. Censorship on distribution of information has also been reinforced, the NIS reported.

By Jo He-rim (