North Korea fired two ballistic missiles into the water off its eastern coast today, according to South Korean officials who called the apparent test fire "provocative."
The missiles are believed to be short-range scuds fired from the eastern port city of Wonsan in Kangwon Province, an unidentified defense ministry official told local media.
"North Korea fired each one missile presumed to be Scuds from the vicinity of Wonsan at about 4:50 AM and 4:58 AM into the East Sea," the official told Yonhap News Agency. "Their range is about 500 kilometers."
The South Korean official said the North's failure to issue no-sail zones before launching the scuds was provocative and was a "military demonstration" in the days ahead of a planned meeting between South Korea and China, North Korea's sole major ally and longtime benefactor.
North Korea maintains the fire was "part of its routine military exercise," Japanese media reported, quoting a foreign ministry official.
The test fire also comes off the heels of North Korea boasting that it has been trying out new precision-guided missiles.
It is not known whether the North is overstating its military capacity analysts said, but the statements on new projectiles could be linked to three short-range missiles the South reported that the North shot on Thursday.
North Korea routinely tests short-range multi-rocket missiles, and has launched 11 tests this year alone. Four of those tests involved ballistic missiles.
Short-range rocket and ballistic missile test fires from the North is commonly exhibited during the time the US and South Korea conduct joint annual military exercises.
The latest soviet-era scud fire flies in the face of a UN ban on testing such weaponry, and is now a topic on schedule for talks between North Korea and Japan this week on an unrelated matter, Japanese officials said.
"We think this issue needs to be addressed properly at the government talks," Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters. "We must make a firm demand toward North Korea that they follow the UN Security council resolution and other agreements."