North Korea fired what appeared to be two short-range missiles on Thursday, the South’s military said, less than a week after its leader, Kim Jong-un, oversaw the test-firing of multiple rockets and a missile.
The launches came as U.S. special envoy for North Korea Stephen Biegun was in Seoul for talks with Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and his counterpart, nuclear envoy Lee Do-hoon.
South Korea’s President said the tests seemed to be a protest by the North after Mr. Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump failed to reach agreement on the North’s nuclear weapons and missile arsenal at a February summit. “North Korea seemed to be discontented it could not reach a deal in Hanoi,” Moon Jae-in said in an interview with South Korean broadcaster KBS.
The two missiles were fired from the northwest area of Kusong, in an easterly direction, the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. They covered distances of 420 km and 270 km and reached an altitude of about 50 km before falling into the sea, they said.
After Thursday’s launch, South Korea’s military said it had stepped up monitoring and security in case of another launch, and was working with the U.S. to get additional information on the missiles involved.
South Korea’s presidential Blue House called the missile launches “very worrisome” and unhelpful for efforts to reduce tensions on the peninsula and improve Korean relations.
In his KBS interview, Mr. Moon said even if the missiles were short range, they could still violate UN resolutions barring North Korea from developing its ballistic missile force.
Still, Mr. Moon said he saw the tests as a sign that North Korea wanted to negotiate, and said he planned to push for a fourth inter-Korean summit with Mr. Kim.