By Elizabeth Boyle, Staff
On Sunday, Oct. 9, North Korea continued its missile testing by launching two short-range ballistic missiles toward the east. In response, South Korea has boosted its surveillance of North Korea. South Korea reported that the two missiles were launched between 1:48 AM and 1:58 AM from the city of Munchon. These launches are only two in an ongoing military demonstration by North Korea.
The tensions between North and South Korea began at the end of World War II when Korea was divided. The Soviet Union supported the North, and the United States supported the South. A consensus could not be reached on what form of government should rule, so both the North and South created two new governments with the supervision of the Soviet Union and the U.S. The new governments are divided at the 38th parallel. The North became the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, aligned with the Soviet Union and the South became the Republic of Korea, aligned with the U.S. and other Western countries.
In 1952 at the end of the Korean War, the 38th parallel was replaced by a buffer zone named the Korean Demilitarized Zone. This line divides the country in half. Tensions continue today as North Korea continues to expand economically and wishes to demonstrate its power to the rest of the world.
You may be thinking, what is the problem with missile testing? This question is answered by Kim Dong-yub, a professor who teaches North Korean studies in Seoul, South Korea. Dong-yub stated that because the missile traveled an estimated 370 miles, he believes a potential target of that distance could be the South Korean southeastern port city of Busan. Another missile launched over Japan was a new intermediate-range weapon that can travel up to 2,800 miles. Dong-yub speculates this missile is designed to hit targets as far away as Alaska or Hawaii.
October 10th was the 77th Anniversary of North Korea’s Workers’ Party, and profound statements were released by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). KCNA said that the missiles launched from North Korea were in response to naval drills between the U.S. and South Korea because it involved the aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan, which is a nuclear-powered ship. It has not been used for five years. KCNA stated that “Through seven times of launching drills of tactical nuclear operation units, the actual capabilities…of the nuclear combat forces read to hit and wipe out the set objects at any location and any time was displayed to the full.” This indicates a direct threat against Reagan and its support fleet. Many Westerners are worried about the deliberate use of the words “hit and wipe out” as some of the missiles being tested have such a long range.
Kim Jong-un, spoke out making his intentions crystal clear. He states that the recent missile tests were “an obvious warning” to South Korea and the U.S. He also stated that his military would maintain “their strongest nuclear response posture and further strengthen it in every way.”
This year North Korea has launched over 40 missiles. Many believe North Korea will continue to “send messages” until the U.S. formally recognizes North Korea as a Nuclear State which would mean many UN sanctions would be lifted from North Korea. The school of thought that is beginning to gain attention is that the war between Russia and Ukraine is causing a distraction that North Korea is using to its advantage.