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North Korea fires cruise missiles again after just 2 days

Opposition party in Seoul says Yoon failed security management following consecutive missile launches

By Kim Arin

Published : Jan. 30, 2024 - 17:25

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People watch a TV news report on North Korean cruise missile launch at a Seoul station on Wednesday. (Yonhap) People watch a TV news report on North Korean cruise missile launch at a Seoul station on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

North Korea fired multiple cruise missiles on Tuesday into waters near its western coast, just two days after test-launching its new cruise missiles from a submarine.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said North Korea fired “several” cruise missiles into the sea at around 7 a.m., the details of which are being analyzed by South Korean and US intelligence authorities.

“We are closely coordinating with the US and maintaining heightened vigilance and surveillance,” the JCS said.

Tuesday’s launch comes after North Korea tested cruise missiles designed to be submarine-launched for the first time on Sunday. The missiles were fired toward waters near the North Korean port city of Sinpo, South Hamgyong Province, where a shipyard for building submarines is located, according to the JCS.

The Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of Pyongyang’s Workers’ Party, said in a report that the test conducted Sunday was for a submarine-launched Pulhwasal-3-31 cruise missile that is under development. It added that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un expressed “profound satisfaction” in the test firings.

On the recent streak of missile tests from North Korea, the main opposition party in South Korea slammed the Yoon Suk Yeol administration for its “warmongering” policies.

“The job of the government is to reassure the people that we are prepared to respond to North Korean threats, not to stoke fears of a war recklessly,” the Democratic Party of Korea said in a statement Tuesday.

Rep. Lee Jae-myung, the Democratic Party chair, told a meeting of the party leadership that the Yoon administration, which “should be trying to get the security crisis under control,” was instead “escalating tensions.”

“I can’t help but wonder if this administration thinks war is some kind of a game,” the opposition leader said. He added that the situation on the Korean Peninsula was “returning to the days of the Cold War.”

“President Yoon must take the criticism at home and abroad seriously that the circumstances on the Korean Peninsula have become more warlike than ever,” Democratic Party Floor Leader Rep. Hong Ihk-pyo said at the same meeting.

He argued that the 2018 inter-Korean military agreement falling apart was to blame.

“The agreement, which was aimed at reducing military activities on both sides, had acted as a safety valve for the two Koreas,” he said. “Now that the agreement is gone, we are faced with higher chances of North Korean provocations and conflicts.”

In November last year, the South Korean military said it would suspend parts of the 2018 agreement to resume surveillance activities near the border. The partial suspension came as Seoul’s response to Pyongyang sending a spy satellite into space. North Korea then said it would withdraw from the agreement entirely.

The ruling People Power Party refuted the Democratic Party's claims that the risks of war erupting between the North and the South have been heightened.

“If North Korea was indeed preparing to go to war this year, it would not be sending hundreds of containers filled with artillery shells and missiles to Russia every three days,” People Power Party Rep. Tae Yong-ho told a party meeting Tuesday.

“We would be playing right into Kim Jong-un’s hands if we fell for North Korea’s routine military provocations and war threat narratives around election season,” said Tae, who was a senior diplomat for North Korea before defecting to the South in 2016.

South Korean military and intelligence authorities anticipate an increase in North Korean belligerence ahead of the April parliamentary election in Seoul and the November presidential election in Washington.