South Korea responded to North Korea’s missile launch over Japan today with an aggressive show of force, conducting a live-fire drill on a shooting range close to its border with the North, and threatening the leaders of the hermit state with “extermination”.
Four F-15 fighter jets dropped eight MK-84 bombs that accurately hit targets at a military field in Gangwon-do, near the northeast coast of South Korea, Seoul’s presidential spokesman Park Su-hyun said. Each bomb weighs 2,000 lb and can penetrate 11 metres of earth and 11 feet of concrete.
South Korea’s defence ministry released footage of the drill along with a video of its own ballistic missile tests conducted last week.
Map: North Korean missile test over japan
“If North Korea threatens the security of the South Korean people and the South Korea-US alliance with their nuclear weapons and missiles, our air forces will exterminate the leadership of North Korea with our strong strike capabilities,” South Korean Colonel Lee Kuk-no warned in the video.
The images showed a powerful bomb striking a mock target, sending earth flying into the air, at the Pilseung Firing Range on Tuesday morning, just a few hours after Pyongyang fired a ballistic missile across Japanese airspace into the Pacific Ocean. Japan’s warning system kicked in, advising citizens on its northern Hokkaido island to take precautions.
According to South Korea’s Yonhap news, the bombing was intended to show off the country’s “overwhelming force”, sending a message to dictator Kim Jong-un that Seoul was ready to defend itself.
The bombing was ordered personally by President Moon Jae-in, who has previously pressed for peace talks with Pyongyang.
A statement from Seoul earlier today stressed that South Korea was “fully ready for any threat from the North and will make unwavering efforts to protect the lives of our people and the security of our nation.”
South Korea is nearing the end of a ten day long joint military exercise with the US, that Pyongyang has strongly condemned and cited as a reason for its own missile tests.
North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations, Han Tae Song, blamed the US for “driving the peninsula towards an extreme level of explosion.”
Speaking at a UN Security Council meeting in Geneva, he said: “My country has every reason to respond with tough counter-measures as an exercise of its right to self defence.”