Tensions rose in the Korean Peninsula on Wednesday while the two Koreas test-fired missiles one after another in a series of tit-for-tat moves.
North Korea fired a total of 23 missiles that were a combination of ballistic and surface-to-air weapons.
The tests included four short-range ballistic missiles fired at 6:51 a.m. local time from its North Pyongan Province into the West Sea. Two hours later, the North fired three short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea (Sea of Japan) one of which landed in the waters below south of the NLL, or North Limit Line.
“This is the first time since the two Koreas split that a ballistic missile fell close to our waters, south of the NLL,” South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a written statement.
The missile fell 104 miles northwest of South Korea’s Ulleung island, triggering an air raid alert which forced the island’s 9,000 residents to evacuate to underground shelters.
The North soon after continued to fire off an additional 10 or more short-range ballistic and surface-to-air missiles from South Hamgyung Province to the east and from South Pyongan Province and South Hwanghae Province to the west.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol ordered the military to ensure that North Korea “pays a clear price for its provocation,” according to his office.
In a retaliatory move South Korea quickly responded by launching its own air-to-surface missiles into a similar area above the NLL, launched by two F-15K and KF-16 jet fighters.
“This precision strike by our military shows that we have willpower to decidedly respond to any sorts of provocation and the capability and readiness to precisely strike the enemy,” the JCS said.
The warning did not stop Pyongyang from firing about 100 artillery shells into the eastern waters near the maritime border.
South Korea demanded Pyongyang cease fire with a statement that they “once again clearly warn that responsibilities of all situations hereafter lies completely on North Korea as North Korea continues to provoke despite repeated warnings from our military.”
Wednesday's launches came hours after Pyongyang warned that it could use nuclear weapons to make the U.S. and South Korea “pay the most horrible price in history” if South Korea and the U.S. joint military drills continue.