Seoul’s Defense Ministry said Wednesday that North Korea’s firing of short-range rockets on Tuesday threatened the safety of a Chinese civilian passenger plane passing through the trajectory of the rockets.
In a strongly worded statement, the ministry called the launch of the rockets without any prior notification to the international civil aviation authorities a “seriously provocative action,” urging Pyongyang to abide by international flight norms.
A China Southern Airlines plane carrying more than 200 passengers passed through the flight path of a rocket the North fired from the Hodo Peninsula near its eastern coastal city of Wonsan.
The plane, which departed from Japan’s Narita International Airport, was en route to Shenyang, Liaoning province, northern China.
On Monday, the North also fired two ballistic missiles that landed in Japan’s air defense identification zone.
“We need to drum up international support in efforts to prevent North Korea from carrying out such provocative actions. Pyongyang may now realize that the international community is closely watching what it is doing,” said a Seoul official on condition of anonymity.
The North on Tuesday fired seven rockets into the East Sea in an apparent show of force against the ongoing South Korea-U.S. military drills. The rocket launch came after the North fired six ballistic missiles on Monday and last Thursday.
The North’s “strategic force” unit argued that the North conducted a live-fire exercise from Feb. 21-March 4, and that the drills were designed to ensure self-defense and were carried out without any negative impact on the international aviation order and environment.
The unit also threatened to launch “retaliatory strikes,” while criticizing the ongoing South Korea-U.S. military drills as “provocations.”