North Korea fires ballistic missile as South hosts democracy conference

Credit: REUTERS/KCNA

Adds details, Japan detecting what appeared to be second launch

SEOUL, March 18 (Reuters) - North Korea fired a ballistic missile into the seaon Mondayfor the first time in two months, at a time when U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was visiting Seoul to attend a conference hosted by President Yoon Suk Yeol on advancing democracy.

South Korea's military said the missile was fired to the east of the Korean peninsula. Japan's coast guard also reported the launch of what it said appeared to be a ballistic missile by North Korea and specified that it has already fallen.

Japan later said it detected what appeared to be a second ballistic missile launch by the North, also falling outside its exclusive economic zone area.

North Korea's military has been conducting exercises using conventional weapons in recent weeks, often personally overseen by the isolated state's leader Kim Jong Un.

The show of force by Pyongyang comes as the militaries of South Korea and the United States carried out large-scale annual joint military drills for 10 days ending last Thursday.

On Sunday, the South Korean military also mobilized marines, attack helicopters and amphibious assault vehicles in drills aimed at surging troop numbers to reinforce western islands near the sea border with North Korea, which had been bombed by the North in 2010.

Blinken is among senior officials from around the world attending the Summit for Democracy conference hosted by South Korea which opens on Monday. He will also meet his South Korean counterpart

The summit is an initiative of U.S. President Joe Biden aimed at discussing ways to stop democratic backsliding and erosion of rights and freedoms worldwide.

At its last ballistic launch on Jan 14, North Korea fired what it said was an intermediate range hypersonic missile using solid fuel on to test new booster engines and a maneuverable warhead.

A month later, it launched multiple cruise missiles off its east coast including what it said was a new surface-to-sea missile in the latest of a series of such tests.

(Reporting by Joyce Lee in Seoul and Mariko Katsumura in Tokyo; Writing by Jack Kim; Editing by Kim Coghill, Ed Davies)

((joyce.lee@tr.com;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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