North Korea’s Hypersonic Missile Test Fails During Flight

June 27, 2024 by No Comments

South Korea’s military announced on Wednesday that a suspected hypersonic missile launched by North Korea exploded in mid-flight. 

According to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the missile was launched around 5:30 a.m. and traveled off the North’s east coast before detonating. 

The Joint Chiefs of Staff stated to reporters that the weapon was likely a solid-fueled hypersonic missile and the launch produced more smoke than usual, potentially due to an engine malfunction.

Senior diplomats from South Korea, the United States, and Japan condemned the missile launch as a violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions, according to South Korea’s Foreign Ministry.

These failed missile tests occur as North and South Korea engage in Cold War-style psychological warfare tactics, employing methods such as balloons and loudspeaker broadcasts, provoking the other side. 

South Korea reported on Wednesday evening that North Korea had launched balloons carrying trash across the border for the third consecutive day. Prior launches had dispersed manure, cigarette butts, waste batteries, and scraps of cloth into South Korea.

These balloon launches forced South Korea’s Incheon International Airport, located approximately an hour’s drive from the border, to suspend takeoffs and landings for at least three hours early Wednesday, according to South Korean aviation authorities.

North Korea maintains that these balloon launches are a response to the South launching its own balloons across the North carrying political leaflets. 

Earlier this month, South Korea resumed propaganda broadcasts from loudspeakers along the border for the first time in years in response to the North Korean balloons. South Korea’s military declared on Monday that it is prepared to reactivate its loudspeakers.

Later on Wednesday, South Korea and the United States conducted joint drills involving 30 advanced fighter jets.

The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt arrived in South Korea on Saturday, and North Korean Vice Defense Minister Kim Kang Il criticized its deployment on Monday as “reckless” and “dangerous.” 

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol visited the vessel on Tuesday. Yoon emphasized to American and South Korean forces on the carrier that their alliance is the world’s most powerful and capable of defeating any adversary. He announced that the U.S. carrier would depart Wednesday to participate in the South Korea-U.S.-Japan drill, dubbed “Freedom Edge.”

South Korean officials explained that the training aims to enhance the three countries’ capacity to respond to North Korea’s evolving nuclear threats, particularly as North Korea strengthens its military partnership with Russia.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin met for a summit in Pyongyang last week, where they signed an agreement bolstering military and economic ties. 

North Korea’s missile launch on Wednesday marked its first weapons demonstration since Kim Jong Un last month oversaw the firing of nuclear-capable multiple rocket launchers to simulate a preemptive strike against South Korea.

Since 2022, North Korea has significantly increased its weapons tests to enhance its nuclear attack capabilities, citing what it calls a deepening U.S. military threat.

North Korea has long perceived the South’s joint military exercises with the U.S. as a rehearsal for an invasion.