The South Korean military confirmed the firing of a long-range missile from North Korea on Monday morning as Pyongyang announced that one of its top diplomats held a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing to cement their close alliance.
North Korea is a communist rogue regime largely ostracized from the free world. China has long been North Korea’s top diplomatic partner and is a party to the Korean War, which ended active hostilities in 1953 but is technically ongoing, as neither side signed a peace treaty or surrendered. America is South Korea’s partner in the war and maintains a robust military presence near the North Korean border as part of the armistice agreement that ended the fighting.
Reports at press time did not confirm what model of long-range missile North Korea shot into the East Sea (or Sea of Japan). Some experts suggested that its range appeared consistent with a model known as the “Hwasong-18,” an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) the regime of dictator Kim Jong-un debuted in July.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry confirmed on Monday that it had welcomed Deputy Foreign Minister Pak Myong Ho to Beijing for talks with Foreign Minister Wang Yi intended to “deepen” the two regimes’ relationship.
“In a world fraught with change and instability, China and the DPRK [North Korea] have firmly supported and trusted each other, which demonstrates the strategic significance of China-DPRK friendship and cooperation,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters. “We would like to work with the DPRK to enhance communication and coordination, deepen exchanges and cooperation in various areas … and advance the sustained and steady growth of China-DPRK friendship and cooperation.”
Wang Wenbin celebrated the “brotherly friendship” between the two.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the communist regime’s official news outlet, similarly celebrated the “comradely and friendly” meeting in Beijing, but offered few details of the event.
“At the talk they [Pak and Wang Yi] expressed the stand to further expand friendly exchange and cooperation between the two countries and boost strategic and tactical cooperation with each other in 2024,” KCNA claimed, “marking the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the DPRK and China, true to the noble intention of the top leaders of the two parties and two countries.”
KCNA also carried another rant full of threats of destruction towards South Korea on Monday, suggesting an “unexpected stroke of destruction” could wipe out the country if it continued to express reasonable concerns about North Korea’s rogue nuclear weapons program and its belligerent behavior.
“Recently, the south [sic] Korean puppet military warmongers are getting more frantic in their rackets of confrontation against the DPRK,” KCNA claimed, referring to military cooperation between Seoul and Washington. “A touch-and-go situation is prevailing on the Korean peninsula due to the sycophantic, treacherous and irresponsible moves of the group of traitors.”
The state outlet claimed that residents of the inter-Korean border region were feeling “uneasiness and terror” as a result of South Korea’s defensive measures and that Seoul’s “disgusting” behavior could lead it to “meet an unexpected stroke of misfortune.”
The governments of Japan, South Korea, and America – which established a joint military communications mechanism this year – confirmed on Monday that North Korea backed its threatening words with action, shooting a long-range missile east. The South Korean outlet Yonhap reported, citing Japanese officials, that the missile “is estimated to have flown for 73 minutes with a maximum altitude of more than 6,000 km, which is similar to the flight time and trajectory of the solid-fuel Hwasong-18 ICBM launched in July.” Yonhap described the missile shot as an “ICBM.”
“If fired on a normal trajectory, it would have flown about 12,000-15,000 km, long enough to strike the U.S. mainland, experts said,” Yonhap reported.
The missile, if confirmed to be an ICBM, is the fifth of its kind North Korea has tested in 2023 and the latest since July. The Hwasong-18 is the latest publicly known North Korean ICBM model, which the communist regime claims can hit the entirety of the continental United States and is a solid-fuel model. Solid-fuel ICBMs take less time to prepare for firing that short-range and thus present a significantly larger threat to targets.
The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff issued a statement to the press asserting that it was cooperating with Japan and America and prepared for any potential threats: “While elevating our alert readiness, our military is maintaining a full readiness posture by closely sharing data on the ‘North Korean ballistic missile’ with the United States and Japan.”
Prior to the launch, on Sunday, an American nuclear-powered submarine arrived in Busan, a South Korean port city that has hosted several high-profile U.S. military assets in the past year. According to the Korea JoongAng Daily, the USS Missouri docked in Busan to send a message of deterrence to the North.
“We plan to strengthen exchanges and cooperation between the South Korean and U.S. navies and further bolster our combined defense posture,” it quoted the South Korean Navy as saying.