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North Korea Launches Another Missile, Days Before South Korea Election 


People watch a television screen showing a news broadcast with file footage of a North Korean missile test, at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, on March 5, 2022.

North Korea has launched what appears to be a ballistic missile into the sea off its east coast, South Korea's military reported Saturday, just four days ahead of South Korea's presidential election.

South Korea's military said the North launched the presumed ballistic missile from the Sunan area of Pyongyang. That is the same location from which North Korea conducted a test Saturday that it said was in preparation for an upcoming satellite launch.

Japan’s Ministry of Defense said the missile flew for about 300 kilometers, reaching a maximum altitude of 550 kilometers. The Japanese coast guard said the missile landed in the sea outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

So far this year, North Korea has conducted nine rounds of launches, shooting off at least 13 separate missiles.

Most of the launches have involved short-range missiles. However, in recent months, North Korea repeatedly indicated it would soon conduct a satellite launch, a move that would significantly raise tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea claims launches peaceful

North Korea insists satellite launches are peaceful, but the United States, Japan and South Korea see them as disguised long-range missile tests.

North Korea is banned from any ballistic missile activity, including tests of any range, by a series of United Nations Security Council resolutions.

The North's latest test comes just four days before South Korea's presidential election. Although North Korea has not been a focus of the campaign, candidates have warned it against launching missiles or conducting other provocations meant to sway the outcome of the vote.

Candidate comments

In a Facebook post, South Korean presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung condemned North Korea’s launch, saying his administration would “never tolerate acts of creating tensions.”

Lee, a former provincial governor, is locked in a tight race with the main conservative candidate, Yoon Seok-youl, a former prosecutor.

North Korea has several other possible motivations for testing missiles, including shoring up domestic political support for leader Kim Jong Un, ensuring the performance of new weapons and demonstrating deterrence.