- choice of words
- BBC News World
North Korea and South Korea fired missiles that hit the waters off their coasts.
Seoul retaliated for the first time on Wednesday three hours after Pyongyang launched a missile that landed less than 60 kilometers from the South Korean city of Sokcho.
The Southern Army said it was “unacceptable” violation of its territory.
In response, it fired three air-to-surface missiles, which authorities say landed a similar distance (60 km) beyond the Northern Limit Line (NLL).
The NLL is a demarcation line that marks the approximate middle of the sea between North and South Korea, but the North has never accepted the border.
On Tuesday, North Korea warned that South Korea and the United States will pay “the most terrible price in history” if they continue joint military exercises seen as a veiled threat to use nuclear weapons.
North Korea is expected continue testing nuclear weapons after a five-year hiatus.
US and South Korean intelligence say Pyongyang has already completed all necessary preparations.
The retaliatory rocket launches come during a period of national mourning in South Korea, following the weekend tragedy in Seoul in which more than 150 people died in a stampede.
North Korea fired at least 10 missiles in an east-west direction on Wednesday, South Korean officials said.
At least one of the North Korean missiles, launched before 9 a.m. local time on Wednesday, landed about 26 kilometers south of the border, 57 kilometers east of Sokcho and 167 kilometers northwest of Ulleung Island.
Air raid sirens were activated in Ulleung, where residents were told to evacuate to underground shelters.
The release was immediately picked up by authorities in South Korea and Japan, who quickly from Pyongyang condemned the escalation.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol called it a “real territorial invasion” even though the missile landed outside South Korean territorial waters and promised a “swift and firm response.”
Under international law, countries can only establish territorial claims within 12 nautical miles of the sea bounded by their land.
Yoon took a policy to stick to hard stance towards North Korea.
Almost three hours later, the South fired three precision air-to-surface missiles from fighter jets into waters off North Korea’s east coast.
The shooting is a sharp escalation of hostilities across the peninsula this year, which has already seen more than 50 missile launches from North Korea, including a ballistic missile that flew over Japan.
On Monday, a US nuclear-powered submarine arrived off the coast of South Korea as part of joint US-South Korean exercises that began in August.
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