North Korean Weapons Launch Sends Message to the South


07 May, 2019

On May 4, Kim Jong Un watched North Korean forces fire a new short-range ballistic missile, experts said. The missile and several other rockets went up and then into the sea off North Korea's east coast. It is North Korea's first ballistic missile test in a year and a half.

The launch appears to violate U.N. Security Council resolutions that ban North Korean ballistic missile activity.

The office of South Korean President Moon Jae-in said it is "very concerned" the North Korean missile test violates the spirit of the inter-Korean agreements.

But U.S. President Donald Trump and other U.S. officials quickly suggested the test was not very important. They said the North did not violate its own promise to stop tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles, or long-range ballistic missiles. However, some experts warn that position could frighten U.S. allies because short-range weapons could still hit South Korea and Japan.

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un supervises a
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un supervises a "strike drill" in this May 4, 2019 photo supplied by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

North still upset about exercises

Robert Carlin is a North Korea scholar writing for the website 38 North. He says the North Korean test was probably a way to show anger toward the South Korean government for continuing joint military exercises with U.S. forces. Last month, Kim called the exercises "hostile acts."

North and South Korea did agree last April to stop "all hostile acts" against each other and eliminate the "danger of war." But they never signed an agreement to stop military exercises completely, and drills have continued on both sides.

North Korea also blames Moon for not acting on the inter-Korean agreements reached during three meetings over the past year. However, U.S. and international trade limits have prevented Moon from following through on many parts of the agreements.

Any time, any place, we can talk

The North Korean weapon launch puts additional pressure on Moon. His public approval rating was very high after his first meeting with Kim. Now it is half of what it was.

Adding to Moon's problems, South Korea's economy unexpectedly lost value in the first quarter of 2019.

A growing number of South Koreans oppose his contact with the North. They see it as unexperienced and unsuccessful.

Moon still wants to work with the North. He said last month he would hold a fourth top-level meeting with Kim "any time, any place."

I'm Jill Robbins.

William Gallo reported on this story for VOA News. Jill Robbins adapted it for Learning English. Kelly Kelly was the editor.

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Words in This Story

ballistic missile – n. a weapon that is shot through the sky over a great distance and then falls to the ground and explodes

intercontinental - adj. capable of traveling from one continent to another

long-rang – adj. relating to or fit for long distances

short-range – adj. relating to or fit for short distances

drill - n. an exercise done to practice military skills or procedures

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