South Korea responds with 8 bombs, threatens to depose Kim Jong-un after he fired latest missile
South Korea has threatened to 'exterminate' North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un if he continues to risk the safety of its population, as Seoul responded to this morning's ballistic missile launch over Japan.
North Korea fired a ballistic missile over northern Japan today in the most serious escalation yet of its nuclear stand-off with the West.
Within hours, South Korea had responded with 'overwhelming show of force' by bombing a shooting range near its border to the North as part of a military drill, launching footage which contained a stern warning to Kim Jong-Un.
Seoul dropped eight Mark 84 bombs with four F15K fighter jets near Taebaek, Gangwon-do province, and released footage of the drill along with a video of its own ballistic missile tests conducted last week.
'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.
A statement from Seoul later on Tuesday echoed this sentiment, saying South Korea is 'fully ready for any threat from the North’.
'We strongly condemn the North's yet another provocation despite a grave message sent through Resolution 2371 adopted by the international community in the wake of its repeated strategic provocations,' the government said in a statement punlished by Yonhap news.
'We are 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,' it said.
The rocket launched by North Korea this morning broke into three pieces off the coast of Hokkaido and landed in the Pacific Ocean, around 700 miles east of Cape Erimo, after travelling 1,700 miles in eight minutes.
Japanese military did not attempt to shoot down the rocket, reportedly a mid range ballistic missile designed to carry a nuclear payload.
North Korea's UN ambassador has blamed the U.S. for 'driving the peninsula towards an extreme level of explosion' by joining the South for war drills in the Pacific, calling today's missile test ‘justified'.
Han Tae Song set to attend a United Nations Security Council meeting in Geneva later today, did not explicitly refer to his country's latest test firing of a ballistic missile that flew over Japan into the sea earlier in the day.
'Now that the U.S. has openly declared its hostile intention towards the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, by waging aggressive joint military exercises despite repeated warnings... my country has every reason to respond with tough counter-measures as an exercise of its right to self defence,' Han told the U.N. Conference on Disarmament.
'And the U.S. should be wholly responsible for the catastrophic consequences it will entail.'
Dictator Kim Jong-Un is believed to have fired his rocket over Japan because it is the path towards the US Pacific territory of Guam, which he threatened to attack two weeks ago.
The new missile managed 1,700 miles before it came down in the Pacific Ocean, a distance which is still some 400 miles short of reaching Guam.
Millions of Japanese citizens were woken with texts urging them to move to a 'sturdy building or basement' as the missile passed over its territory at around 6am local time on Tuesday.
Residents took cover, while train services across Japan halted, with early-morning commuters told bluntly: 'All lines are experiencing disruption due to missile launch.’
Japan's chief government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, said that the missile posed an 'unprecedented, serious and grave threat to our nation', while prime minister Shinzo Abe said that he would do all in his power to protect the Japanese public.
Donald Trump has promised 'fire and fury like the world has never seen' if North Korea continued to test missiles and told Mr Abe today he stands '100 per cent behind Japan'.
The missile test was branded 'another provocation' and a big concern, by the U.S. official disarmament ambassador to the UN.
Washington still needs to do 'further analysis' of the missile that flew over Japan's northern Hokkaido island into the sea, but it will be the subject of today's Security Council meeting, U.S. envoy Robert Wood told reporters in Geneva.
'It's another provocation by North Korea, they just seem to continue to happen. This is a big concern of course to my government and to a number of other governments,' Wood said before a session of the U.N.-sponsored Conference on Disarmament where North Korean Ambassador Han Tae Song was to speak.
Dictator Kim Jong-Un ignored the US president's warning and fired the rocket from a region near the capital Pyongyang over Japan - the first time North Korea has done this since 2009.
The South Korean military said Tuesday it conducted three flight tests of two types of new missiles with ranges of 497 miles and 310 miles on August 24 and that the missiles were close to being operationally deployed.
The military released footage of the tests of the longer-range missile that showed the missile being fired from a truck-mounted launcher and hitting a land-based target.
South Korea hasn't officially named the missile yet, but it is tentatively called the Hyunmoo-2C.
The missile is considered a key component to the so-called 'kill chain' pre-emptive strike capability the South is pursuing to cope with the North's growing nuclear and missile threat.
Neighbouring China has responded to the missile launch with a call for restraint from all sides, but warned that tensions have reached a 'tipping point' after U.S. and South Korea went on with their annual military exercises.
Television and radio broadcasters broke into their regular programming with a 'J-Alert' warning citizens of the missile launch in the early hours of the morning.
Bullet train services were temporarily halted and warnings went out over loudspeakers in towns in Hokkaido.
'I was woken by the missile alert on my cellphone,' said Ayaka Nishijima, 41, an office worker from Morioka, the capital of Iwate prefecture, 180 miles south of Cape Erimo.
'I didn't feel prepared at all. Even if we get these alerts there's nowhere to run. It's not like we have a basement or bomb shelter, all we can do is get away from the window,' she told Reuters.
Hironori Matsuura, an official in the coastal town of Erimo, said people were stunned as this is the first time a North Korea missile is believed to have flown over Hokkaido.
The town, which has about 4,800 residents, is checking on what went wrong with the speaker system.
'We all woke up,' he said. 'But there are no reports of any damage, and no one had to evacuate.’
Hokkaido prefectural official Hirofumi Tsujii said J-Alert was set off throughout the prefecture, and officials were checking on malfunction reports.
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he would do all in his power to protect the Japanese public.
'We will make utmost efforts to firmly protect the lives of the people,' Abe told reporters in brief remarks as he entered his office for emergency meetings on the missile firing.
The country's chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, described it as an 'unprecedented, grave threat’.
Self-defence forces made no attempt to shoot down the missile as it passed 341 miles above Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost main island, at 6am local time.
The eight-minute flight took the rocket 1,678 miles before it hit the sea, 730 miles east of the coast of Japan.
It follows a month of escalating hostility between the rogue state and the US, with Donald Trump promising 'fire and fury like the world has never seen' if North Korea continued to test missiles.
Last night the Pentagon said it was aware of the launch.
Spokesman Colonel Robert Manning said officials had determined that the missile launch did not pose a risk to North America.