Following a naval incursion earlier this week, North Korea continued to provoke the South with the launch of four short-range missiles into the East Sea. The South Korean Defense Ministry confirmed that the launches took place at around 5:42 p.m. Thursday, from the Gitdaeryeong hills on the North’s southeastern coast. An initial Yonhap News report suggested that the missiles were short-range Scud ballistic missiles. The missiles are believed to possess a range of around 200 kilometers.
Although the North regularly launches short-range missiles during its military drills, the timing of this latest launch points to political motivations. The provocation comes as relations between the two Koreas appeared to be improving on the surface. The two held rare high-level talks followed by the reunion of families separated by the Korean War armistice. The North, however, had voiced its displeasure over the annual South Korea-United States military exercises that began on Monday. The missile launch and the naval incursion are both likely a show of force by the North during these joint exercises.
The launch bears similarities to the North’s last known short-range missile launch which took place in May 2013. Back then, the North fired missiles to protest a joint naval exercise between South Korea and the United States. The North has generally provoked Seoul during or following major military exercises. In 2010, the North Korean military shelled Yeonpyeong Island following a military exercise.
At the moment details surrounding the launch remain limited. The South Korean Defense Ministry has made a limited statement, and the North has made no public declarations about the launch.