Defiant North Korea tests missiles, jams South Korean GPS

The launches came a day after the North sent more than 250 balloons carrying trash into South Korea.
By Taejun Kang for RFA
Taipei, Taiwan
Defiant North Korea tests missiles, jams South Korean GPS A missile is launched, as North Korea conducted a test firing of a tactical ballistic missile on Friday, state media KCNA said on Saturday, at an unknown location in North Korea, in a handout picture obtained by Reuters on May 18, 2024.
KCNA via Reuters

North Korea test-fired about 10 short-range ballistic missiles into the sea off its east coast on Thursday while launching GPS jamming attacks against the South, the South Korean military said.

The missile tests came a day after the North sent hundreds of balloons carrying trash and manure into the South, which Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, said was fitting punishment for those who mocked her country.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, or JCS, said it detected the flight vehicles presumed to be short-range ballistic missiles fired from the Sunan district of Pyongyang toward the East Sea, or Sea of Japan as it is also known, at 6:14 a.m. 

“Our military has strengthened monitoring and vigilance against additional launches, while closely sharing information related to North Korean ballistic missiles with the U.S. and Japanese authorities,” the JCS said in a message to reporters.

The launches come less than two weeks after North Korea’s test-firing of tactical ballistic missiles – considered to be short-range – equipped with what it called a new “autonomous” navigation system.

The North failed in an attempt to launch a second military spy satellite, in defiance of U.N. sanctions, on Monday as the space rocket carrying the satellite exploded during the first-stage flight shortly after liftoff.

Separately, the South Korean military said it had detected attempts by North Korea to jam global positioning system signals for a second day.

The military detected the GPS jamming attacks from 7:50 a.m. near the de-facto inter-Korean sea border in the Yellow Sea, the JCS said.

The jamming attacks have not hindered any military operations, the JCS added.

The latest North Korean actions came after it sent balloons carrying trash and excrement over the South on Tuesday and Wednesday, in retaliation for similar balloon flights from the South, launched by North Korean defectors and South Korean activists, carrying pro-democracy materials aimed at undermining the North Korean state.

The balloon launchings from the South infuriate North Korea and it vowed to retaliate.

Kim Yo Jong called this week’s North Korean balloons and their trash “gifts from heart”, the North’s state-run KCNA news agency reported.

Referring to the balloons, she cited the “freedom of expression” of the North Korean people. She added the South’s balloons were aimed at “political instigation” and “disparaged the North’s ideology and system” while trying to spread South Korea’s “miscellaneous thoughts that sprouted from the gutter.”

“Those who have grossly mocked and insulted our people must be punished as they deserve,” Kim said. 

Edited by Mike Firn.


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