North Korea conducted its first missile launch of the year on Sunday, firing a suspected solid-fuel short-range ballistic missile, likely identified as KN-23, into the East Sea.
The launch occurred from an area in or around Pyongyang at approximately 2:55 p.m., with the missile covering a distance of around 1,000 kilometers before plunging into the sea.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) promptly condemned the launch as a “clear provocative act.” The JCS shared crucial data on the North Korean missile with U.S. and Japanese authorities, initiating an analysis of its specifications.
Amidst heightened tensions, the JCS affirmed a robust South Korea-U.S. combined defense posture, emphasizing the military’s commitment to closely monitoring North Korea’s activities. The statement underscored the maintenance of capabilities and readiness to respond overwhelmingly to any provocation.
In recent collaborative efforts, Seoul, Washington, and Tokyo fully activated a real-time data-sharing system for North Korean missile warnings, aiming to strengthen trilateral cooperation against evolving military threats from the North. This move follows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s recent declaration that he has no intention of avoiding war with South Korea, issuing a direct threat to annihilate the South if met with force.
South Korean officials anticipate further provocative actions from North Korea in the early part of the year, heightening concerns and escalating tensions in the lead-up to South Korea’s general elections in April.