The Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile was launched from North Korea’s Sunan region around 7.52 a.m. local time.
Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kiichi said North Korea had launched “at least one ballistic missile” that flew 300 kilometers (186 miles) and had a maximum altitude of 600 kilometers (373 miles).
South Korea’s National Security Council said the launch was “undesirable” to stabilize peace while the world tries to resolve the Ukraine war, according to the Blue House, South Korea’s presidential office.
The National Security Council also expressed “deep concern and deep regret” over the launch, which marked the eighth missile test this year, and urged North Korea to “immediately cease actions that are inconsistent with a peaceful solution through diplomacy.”
The latest release comes less than two weeks before South Korea’s March 9 presidential election, in which North Korea will likely be a major electoral issue. If conservative candidate Yoon Seok-yeol succeeds, analysts expect him to take a tougher stance against North Korea than incumbent President Moon Jae-in.
Intensification of missile tests
North Korea ramped up its missile tests in 2022, announcing plans to bolster its defenses against the United States and assessing “the resumption of all temporarily suspended activities,” according to state media.
During Trump’s presidency, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that could theoretically reach the continental United States, and benefited from those tests in meetings with the then US president. Last year, during US President Joe Biden’s first office, North Korea conducted eight tests – none of which were within the range of an ICBM.
Analysts note that mounting testing this year shows Kim is striving to achieve domestic goals and shows to an increasingly turbulent world that Pyongyang remains a player in the struggle for power and influence.
“North Korea won’t do anyone a favor to remain silent while the world deals with Russia’s aggression against Ukraine,” Leif Eric Easley, associate professor of international studies at the University of Iowa in Seoul, said after Sunday’s test.
“Pyongyang has an ambitious timetable for military modernization. The strength and legitimacy of the Kim regime is linked to better missile testing than ever before.”