North Korea Launches Several Short-range Ballistic Missiles During Blinken Visit To South Korea

( – North Korea is continuing to display acts of aggression by firing missiles off its coast. The latest came as Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Seoul to attend the Summit for Democracy. The trip also coincided with the completion of a large-scale joint military training session.

The missile launches on Monday, March 18, were the first the isolated country had fired in more than a month. According to the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff, who texted the media, multiple launches occurred within a space of more than 30 minutes. The military “closely shared information with the US and Japan,” the latter of which also noted that it had detected the activity. The missiles landed outside of Japan’s exclusive economic zone, an area of the Pacific Ocean where the country has jurisdiction.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida acknowledged that there was no damage, but said, “North Korea’s series of actions threaten the peace and security of [its] region and the international community,” calling the launches “absolutely unacceptable,” per The Associated Press. The US Department of State joined Japan in condemning the launches.

Pyongyang has made no secret of thinking that the military exercises between South Korea and the US are practice for an invasion. The US currently has 80,000 troops stationed there. North Korea has initiated several missile launches over the past few years, typically framing them as preparing for conflict in the face of escalating military endeavors. Last year, it fired 33 alone.

The Summit for Democracy is an initiative of President Joe Biden’s administration. It was created to address the various threats to democracy. This year’s event focused largely on artificial intelligence and the dangers it presents, particularly in the area of deepfakes. Misinformation was also on the agenda. The topics are timely, considering the impact those elements could have on the upcoming November presidential election.

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