ince January 5, in the space of less than a month, North Korea has launched missiles, including “hypersonic missiles” and medium-range ballistic missiles, on seven separate days. Last September it also tested missiles for five days. Thus, this is not the first time that Pyongyang has tested missiles for multiple days in the past year. However, this year’s launches are connected to the rapidly cooling relations with the United States, and this is what makes them different from those of last September.
North Korea tested hypersonic missiles first back last September in Chagang Province. It followed up this test with another on January 5, launching a hypersonic missile from an inland location into the East Sea (Sea of Japan). Following this, on January 6, North Korea revealed through its Rodong Sinmun newspaper that Kim Jong-un was very pleased with the results and had sent “warm congratulations” to the national defense scientific research sector.
What is more, on January 11, Pyongyang again tested a hypersonic missile, launching a projectile from Chagang Province into the East Sea (Sea of Japan). The South Korean Ministry of National Defense said that the missile launched on January 5 had reached a maximum speed of Mach 6, an apogee of under 50 km, and flew for less than 700 km, while the missile launched on January 11 had flown for more than 700 km, had reached an apogee of around 60 km, and flew at a speed of around Mach 10. On January 7, a South Korean defense ministry official characterized the January 5 launch as “just a normal missile that they exaggerated the capabilities of,” this was the missile that Kim had publicly hailed. As if by way of a response, the North then tested another missile with more advanced capabilities.