Communist dictator Kim Jong-un is defiantly continuing to develop North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile program despite new rounds of sanctions implemented by President Trump.
Early Tuesday morning, the North Korean regime launched a missile from an unknown location near their capital of Pyongyang. The missile soared over Hokkaido, an island of Japan, making this the first North Korean missile to pass over Japan since 1998. In response, the South Korean military demonstrated their superior might, in a drill simulating the complete destruction of the North Korean leadership, according to CNN.
Hours after the North Korean ballistic missile soared over Japan, landing safely in the Pacific Ocean, the Republic of Korean Air Force (ROKAF) responded by deploying four F-15K jet fighters. The fighters each dropped two MK-84 bombs on a simulated target in the mountain ranges of Gangwon Province, South Korea.
MK-84 bombs are 2,000-pound weapons designed to destroy fortified ground targets. The ROKAF celebrated that all eight missiles successfully and safely struck their target.
Officials from the South Korean military also revealed footage of their latest ballistic missile test while chastising their communist neighbors to the north. The footage showcased three ballistic missiles with an effective range between 300 and 500 miles. All three ballistic missiles hit their target with pin point accuracy.
Robert Kelly, a Political Science professor at Pusan National University, explained to CNN that South Korea’s military response was a carefully considered military escalation. “North Koreans can’t just shoot missiles over people’s countries, there has to be some response,” explained Kelly, “it’s got to be tough, to send a signal, but they don’t want to be too tough because no one wants to get into a war.”
However, South Korean Defense Ministry is making their intentions clear. “The drill reconfirmed South Korea Air Force capability to destroy the enemy’s leadership in cases of emergency,” explained an official.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decried the North Korean missile test, which he described as a “most serious and grave” threat to his nation. Considering Japan’s pacifist constitution which only utilizes forces for defensive measures, the country is clearly alarmed by North Korea’s actions–and willing to take action.
The Japanese Prime Minister, along with South Korea and the United States are calling for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council to draft a response to North Korea’s defiant missile testing.
With North Korea launching a missile over Japan, the UN is called upon to deal with the situation. Will they be effective?
While the Japanese government is understandably perturbed over North Korea’s aggressive missile testing, experts explain that Japan is an unlikely target for North Korean aggression. Josh Pollack, a senior researcher at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, argues that North Korea has nothing to gain by attacking Japan.
“It definitely expresses contempt for Japan but it’s not a threat to them,” says Pollack, adding that North Korea is “really confined by their geography. If they’re going to launch to a distance they’ve got to go over somebody. At a bare minimum they’ve got to go over some small, populated island if you want to test… an ICBM.”
Unwilling to offend the sympathetic governments of Russia and China, North Korea’s only option to develop weapons capable of striking the mainland United States is by launching missiles over Japan. While the US must remain vigilant against this threat, it will be interesting to see what solutions come from the emergency meeting at the UN.