North Korea has continued to prod the United States and its allies, launching projectiles into the ocean on Monday as Pyongyang appeared to express anger over U.S.-South Korean military training exercises and deepening U.N. sanctions.
On Monday, North Korea fired five projectiles into the South China Sea, the South Korean military said. It is unclear if they were artillery shells or missiles, but they were fired from the northeastern city of Hamhung and flew about 125 miles.
"Our military is keeping close tabs on the situation and standing by with a heightened defense posture," the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement carried by that country’s Yonhap News agency.
On Friday, North Korea fired a pair of medium-range missile into the Sea of Japan, marking the first time the country fired a medium-range missile since early 2014. The missile was believed to be a test of re-entry technology necessary for a long-range nuclear missile. South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the missiles flew 500 miles before crashing into the ocean.
The country has also fired several short-range projectiles from its east coast since the U.N. imposed broad new sanctions after the country exploded a nuclear device and fired a long-range missile earlier this year.
South Korea and the U.S. are conducting what South Korea's defense ministry called “the largest ever” joint military maneuvers, involving 300,000 South Korean troops and at least 17,000 from the U.S. Small detachments of forces from Australia and New Zealand also participated in Saturday's operations.
The allies view the exercises as way to deter the North from military provocations.
"At the end of the day, we sincerely believe peace through strength, and it is in the strength of our alliance that we believe can deter and avoid war," said Brig. Gen. John Jansen, the commander of the U.S. 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, according to Yonhap.
Seoul and Washington were scheduled for talks Monday on implementing new sanctions on North Korea imposed on the North over its nuclear test in January and long-range rocket launch last month. Pyongyang has repeatedly issued nuclear strike threats against both Seoul and Washington.
The U.S. special representative for North Korean policy, Sung Kim, who is in Seoul, said Monday that North Korea "should refrain from all provocative actions, including missile tests, which are clearly in violation of Security Council resolutions," the Associated Press reported.
Pyongyang views the exercises as prelude to invasion.
On Sunday, North Korean state TV broadcast photos of leader Kim Jong Un supervising landing and defensive drills, AP reported. The photos showed artillery blazing, navy ships landing as shells fell nearby, and soldiers running with the national flag. North Korea has a history of photo manipulation and there was no way to verify the authenticity of the photos.
In a statement on Saturday attributed to its military, North Korea accused the U.S. and South Korea of holding the landing drill as part of an “operation to advance into Pyongyang.” Other North Korean media reports have referred angrily to an invasion they allege Washington and Seoul are planning against its regime.
“The revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK holding tightly the arms to annihilate the enemies with towering hatred for them are waiting for the dignified Supreme Command to issue an order to launch a preemptive strike of justice,” it said in comments carried by the state KCNA news agency.