North Korea Launches Missiles From Submarine as U.S.-South Korean Drills Begin


Hailey Schoutteet, Writer

North Korea test-fired two strategic cruise missiles from a submarine. On Monday, South Korean and American troops were scheduled to begin 11 days of joint drills, dubbed “Freedom Shield 23,” which will be held on a scale not seen since 2017. These drills are supposed to strengthen the allies’ combined defensive posture, the two militaries have said, and will feature field exercises including amphibious landings. 

North Korea has conducted a record number of missile tests and drills in the past year in what it says is an effort to boost its nuclear deterrent and make more weapons fully operational. Koo Byoung-sam the spokesperson for South Korea’s unification ministry said “It is very regrettable that North Korea is using our regular, defensive drills as a pretext for provocation. I hope North Korea realizes that there is nothing they can earn from escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula.”

The submarine launches aimed to show the determination in North Korea to control a situation in which, KCNA said, “The U.S imperialists and the South Korean puppet forces are getting evermore undisguised in their anti-DPRK military manoeuvers.” The DPRK stands for North Korea’s Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The strategic cruise missiles were fired from the “8.24 Yongung” submarine in the water off the east coast of Korea early Sunday morning. The missiles traveled around 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) before hitting a target in the sea, the KCNA report said.

It is unclear whether North Korea had fully developed the miniaturized nuclear warheads needed to fit the missiles. Analysts say that perfecting warheads would most likely be a key goal if the North resumes nuclear testing. The North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered the military to intensify drills to deter and respond to “real war” if necessary.