North Korea fires 'missiles' towards Japan as ships are put on high alert

Kim Jong-un oversees a missile launch into the Sea of Japan. [Mirror]
North Korea has fired two projectiles into the Sea of Japan in what appears to be its latest ballistic missile launch.

Kim Jong-un oversaw the launch a day after sending a surprise condolence message to South Korean President Moon Jae-in over the passing of his mother.
The suspected missiles were fired shortly after the funeral for Moon's mother was held on Thursday.

Japan's coastguard said the projectiles appeared to be ballistic missiles and they landed outside its territorial waters and exclusive economic zone to the east of North Korea.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff was the first to announce the launch and said its military was maintaining readiness while monitoring the situation.

SEE ALSO :U.S. ready to deal with any North Korean 'Christmas gift': Trump

The projectiles crashed into the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea.

It is the 12th launch this year amid a breakdown in talks with the US about denuclearisation on the Korean Peninsula and sanctions that have crippled Pyongyang.

On October 3, Kim's regime announced that it had successfully test-fired a new submarine-launched ballistic missile from the sea.

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It said the weapon was necessary to protect the North from external threats and bolster self-defence.

Thursday's launch came after Kim expressed "deep condolences" and "consolation" to South Korea's leader over the passing of his mother in a rare show of compassion.

SEE ALSO :North Korea's Kim warns of 'grave' economic challenge

The message was delivered through the fortified border zone at the truce village of Panmunjom on Wednesday afternoon.

Moon's 92-year-old mother, Kang Han-ok, died on Tuesday at a hospital in the southern port city of Busan.

Kim's message to Moon was likely an act of diplomatic courtesy and not a sign of a meaningful shift in Pyongyang's tough stance towards Seoul, experts told South Korea's Yonhap News Agency.

North Korea launches a missile. [Mirror]
Kim's In June, Kim sent his sister with flowers when the widow of former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, who championed engagement policy with the North, died.

Relations between the North and South have cooled in recent months following a number of meetings between Kim and Moon and between Kim and US President Donald Trump.

Talks aimed at denuclearisation have stalled, although there were signs that Pyongyang and Washington could hold a third summit in the future.

North Korea has hit out at South Korea and the US for staging joint military drills that it sees as preparation for an invasion.

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