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Yoon’s office says Seoul city ‘overreacted’ to NK launch

May 31, 2023 - 09:45 By Shin Ji-hye
Students are seen preparing for a field trip in the waiting room at Seoul Station on Wednesday. The Interior Ministry later clarified that the warning alert issued by the Seoul Metropolitan Government was sent in error. (Yonhap)

The presidential office said Seoul City “overreacted” when it sent an emergency text alert advising people to prepare to evacuate after an attempted satellite launch by North Korea.

At 6:41 a.m. the Seoul Metropolitan Government sent phone alerts and sounded emergency sirens, warning citizens to prepare for evacuation, without specifying the destination. At 7:03 a.m., the Ministry of the Interior and Safety issued a message clarifying that the previous warning was sent in error.

A senior official from the presidential office told reporters on the condition of anonymity that the Seoul Metropolitan Government appeared to have overreacted to the launch announcement made by the Interior Ministry.

At 7:05 a.m., the presidential office informed reporters through a written notice that the National Security Office promptly convened a meeting to assess the security situation regarding North Korea’s space launch vehicle. It would decide whether or not to hold the National Security Council as needed.

Hours later at 9:16 a.m., the office said that the National Security Council standing committee, presided over by national security adviser Cho Tae-yong, was currently underway following the security situation review meeting.

It added that President Yoon received the first report immediately after the launch of "what North Korea claims is a space launch vehicle" at 6:29 a.m. and has been receiving real-time updates since then. The NSC is also closely monitoring the possibility of any additional developments occurring.

Earlier in the morning, Joint Chiefs of Staff announced that North Korea had claimed to have launched a space launch vehicle. It is the first time in seven years since the launch of the Kwangmyongsong-4 in February 2016 that North Korea had attempted to launch a satellite.