North Korea has declared a no-sail zone for its ships off its east coast, South Korean media reported yesterday, suggesting more missile launches are possible before the US defense chief visits Seoul this week.
Pyongyang fired four short-range missiles off its west coast on Friday last week in what South Korea called a bid to stoke tension during its annual joint military drills with the US.
The two Koreas are locked in a tense standoff, trading harsh rhetoric recently over the arrest by Pyongyang of two South Korean nationals it accused of espionage.
It was not clear if the latest warning for ships to stay clear of an area off the Korean Peninsula’s east coast was a direct indication of an imminent missile launch.
“There are no signs of peculiar movements,” South Korean Ministry of National Defense deputy spokesman Na Seung-yong told a briefing.
Na said a no-sail warning had not been sent to Seoul or the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
North Korea has reported to the IMO before previous long-range missile launches, which it has claimed were rockets to launch satellites. The North is under UN sanctions banning it from developing ballistic missile technologies.
US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter is due to start a three-day visit to South Korea on Thursday.
South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency quoted unidentified government officials as saying the no-sail warning has been in effect since Wednesday last week and could indicate that a launch of a mid-range Rodong missile was “possible,” according to an official quoted by Yonhap.
North Korea last test-fired its mid-range Rodong missile, which has a design range of 1,300 km, in March last year, while the leaders of South Korea, Japan and the US were meeting to discuss the threat from the North.
Pyongyang did not issue a no-sail warning before that launch.
North Korea frequently test fires short-range missiles into the sea, often in what are seen as a response to the US-South Korean drills.
Last month, North Korea tested two short-range missiles off its eastern coast without designating a no-sail zone, drawing protest from Japan.
North Korea, which has threatened to carry out a fourth nuclear test, could be close to being able to put a nuclear warhead on a missile, some experts say, with the mid-range Rodong the most likely to be used.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
‘SUICIDE’: Media reports said Park Won-soon went missing on Thursday after a staff member filed a sexual harassment claim against him this week Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, viewed as a potential candidate for the 2022 presidential election, was found dead of an apparent suicide hours after he was reported missing, police said, adding that he was the subject of an undisclosed investigation. In a note he is thought to have left behind on his desk, Park offered his apologies. “I thank everyone who was with me in my life. I apologize to my family for only making them suffer from pain,” according to the note that was released by his office yesterday. Park, in his letter, asked to be cremated and have his remains spread