İrem UZUN -TDO- North Korea on Monday test-fired two short-range ballistic missiles, South Korea’s military said, the first such launch by the country this year.  The projectiles were fired from Wonsan on the country’s east coast around 12:37 local time, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) reported, and headed towards the Sea of Japan, known in Korea as the East Sea.

The military drill coincided with the anniversary of Mr. Kim’s summit last year with President Trump in Hanoi, Vietnam. The summit collapsed over differences over how fast North Korea would roll back its nuclear weapons program and when Washington should ease sanctions.

The Monday launch came three days after Mr. Kim fired one of his closest aides for corruption during a meeting of the Political Bureau of his Workers’ Party. During the meeting, Mr. Kim excoriated “abuse of power, practices of privileges, indulgence in bureaucracy, corruption and irregularities” among senior officials of the party’s Central Committee and at the party’s cadre-training center. 

Kim Jong Un said North Korea would soon reveal a new "strategic weapon" and insisted the country was no longer "unilaterally bound" to a self-imposed suspension on the testing of nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missiles. But Kim didn't explicitly lift the moratorium or give any clear indication that such tests were impending and seemed to leave the door open for eventual negotiations.

In the meantime, Japan said it hadn't detected any projectile landing in its territory or its exclusive economic zone, and that no sea vessels or aircraft had been damaged.  "The repeated firings of ballistic missiles by North Korea is a serious problem for the international community including Japan, and the government will continue to gather and analyze information and monitor the situation to protect the lives and property of the people," the Defense Ministry's statement said.

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