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Monday, April 15, 2024

North Korea says tested missile was Hwasong-17 ICBM

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North Korea’s state media said Friday that the regime test-fired a Hwasong-17 the day before, as shown above. [KOREAN CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY]
North Korea’s state media said Friday that the regime test-fired a Hwasong-17 the day before, as shown above. [KOREAN CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY]

North Korea’s state media said Friday that it test-fired a Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) the day before to demonstrate its “toughest response posture” against the ongoing combined military exercise between South Korea and the United States.

In an English-language news report published by Pyongyang’s official mouthpiece, the Korean Central News Agency (KNCA), the regime said the test was personally supervised by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Photos that ran with the article showed Kim and a young girl who was believed to be his daughter, Ju-ae. Among the pictures was one that showed Earth from outer space, apparently taken from a camera mounted atop the missile.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un supervising the test next to what appears to be his daughter, Ju-ae [KOREAN CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY]
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un supervising the test next to what appears to be his daughter, Ju-ae [KOREAN CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY]

The Hwasong-17 ICBM is known to be North Korea’s most advanced ICBM, capable of targeting anywhere in the United States when fired from a normal angle.

North Korea’s ICBM launch on Thursday came just two hours and 40 minutes before South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol was to travel to Japan for a historic summit and discuss threats from the regime.

“The launching drill of the strategic weapon serves as an occasion to give a stronger warning to the enemies intentionally escalating the tension in the Korean peninsula while persistently resorting to irresponsible and reckless military threats,” the KCNA report read.

Kim was quoted as stressing “the need to strike fear into the enemies” by “irreversibly bolstering up the nuclear war deterrent.”

For days, Pyongyang has been blasting Seoul and Washington for conducting their biggest combined military exercise in five years, which brought back large-scale field training that was suspended during the past left-leaning Moon Jae-in administration.

An image of Earth, apparently taken from a camera mounted atop the missile [KOREAN CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY]
An image of Earth, apparently taken from a camera mounted atop the missile [KOREAN CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY]

The so-called Freedom Shield 23 kicked off on Monday and is planned to last until next Thursday.

Unlike previous combined exercises with weekend breaks, South Korea’s military said Freedom Shield 23 will be held for 11 days straight, marking the longest combined military exercise conducted by the allies without a pause.

North Korea’s latest missile test was its second during the first four days of the combined exercise.

Last Tuesday, it fired two short-range ballistic missiles, which flew about 620 kilometers (385 miles).

According to the KCNA, Thursday’s test was carried out from Pyongyang International Airport. The missile reportedly traveled about 1,000 kilometers after peaking at an altitude of 6,045 kilometers before splashing into the open waters of the East Sea.

Hours later, after holding a bilateral summit with his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida on Thursday afternoon, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said both sides agreed to resume security consultations to better respond to North Korean threats.

Kishida called for trilateral cooperation between Seoul, Washington and Tokyo.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]