Update 1419 Korea : Chosun Ilbo reported that North Korea has launched another projectile, which JCS presumed as another Rodong missile, 22 minutes after the first launch at 5:55 a.m.
“Unknown projectile was seen from Sukcheon, South Pyeongan Province from today 6:17 a.m.,” said JCS. “The projectile was lost from the radar at an altitude of 17 kilometers.”
North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile into the East Sea (Sea of Japan) on early Friday morning, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff announced. The projectile, presumably the Rodong-1 type missile, is estimated to have flown around 800 kilometers.
“North Korea has launched one ballistic missile from Sukcheon, South Pyeongan Province, towards the East Sea at 5:55 a.m.,” the JCS said.
While the exact type of the projectile has not been announced, the projectile flew around 800 kilometers in distance.
Along with other local media’s estimation, NK News director of intelligence John Grisafi said the projectile would most likely be Rodong-1 missile, based on the range.
“At that range it is likely a Rodong,” said Grisafi. “It’s beyond any known Scud variant’s range.”
This launch happened eight days after their most recent launch of two rounds of Scud missiles on Thursday last week.
As with Friday’s launch, during the last launch the projectiles also went over the Korean Peninsula, which Kim Dong-yup, researcher at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies, described at that time as a “display of their overwhelming confidence in this system.”
“Sukchon is on the west coast, northwest of Pyongyang. If they fired into the East Sea from there, they fired across the country again,” said Grisafi. “This means they are reasonably confident in the reliability of these missiles.”
“We are keeping keen eyes on related matters, and are remaining in full readiness against North Korea’s provocation,” JCS said.
Kim Dong-yup, researcher at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies believes that North Korea has exposed its missile operation strategy to the public.
“With the new North Korean 300mm rocket artillery system revealed, from the southern side of the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) to Pyeongtaek and Osan, North Korea has this region in its range,” Kim told NK News. “Places like Busan, Pohang, Mokpo, and Yeosu, outside the range of rocket artillery, are in its Scud’s range of 500 kilometers.”
“This launch, which flew over 800 kilometers, shows that North Korea is capable of carrying out attacks on Japan and U.S. military bases in Okinawa with Rodong missiles,” Kim said.
This is the first time North Korea is known to have launched a Rodong-1 since March 2014, when they fired two missiles some 650 kilometers off of the East Coast.
The launch follows a series of recent North Korean threats and claims, including threat to carry out the nuclear strike on New York City, the launch of two Scud missiles, the publishing of pictures of a “miniaturized” warhead, a threat to liberate South Korea and bomb the U.S. mainland just since the end of last month.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry released a statement condemning North Korea’s launch.
“We call again on North Korea to refrain from actions that further raise tensions in the region,” said Kerry. “The U.S. remains steadfast in its commitments to the defense of its allies, including the Republic of Korea and Japan. We will continue to coordinate closely with our allies and partners in the region.”
Friday is also the last day for Key Resolve, the ongoing ROK-U.S. joint military training exercise.
(JH Ahn is an NK News correspondent based in Seoul. He previously worked as an interpreter for United States Forces Korea.)