NORTH Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast and towards Japan on Sunday, the South Korean military has said.

The missiles were launched from the port city of Wonsan and travelled 140 miles before landing in the waters between the two countries.

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Breaking news of the launch is reported on South Korean televisionCredit: EPA A picture released by North Korea of another launch earlier this month

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A picture released by North Korea of another launch earlier this monthCredit: AFP

The launches were reported in a statement by South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, which went on to admonish the behaviour at a time when the world continues to battle the coronavirus outbreak.

“In a situation where the entire world is experiencing difficulties due to COVID-19, this kind of military act by North Korea is very inappropriate and we call for an immediate halt,” it said.

The projectiles are thought to have been ballistic missiles, though the statement did not provide any further specifics.

They did not land in Japanese territory or its broader exclusive economic zone.

The North Korean military is thought to have fired eight or nine missiles over four rounds of tests this month – the most it would ever have fired in a single month.

Previous tests this month were personally attended by North Korean despot Kim Jung-un and attracted similar condemnation internationally.

NORTH KOREA CLAIMS ZERO CORONAVIRUS CASES

The isolated country has not so far confirmed any cases of the coronavirus, though has claimed to be waging an all-out campaign against it.

It is not known whether the lack of cases is because movement in and out of the country is heavily restricted or because authorities there are hiding an outbreak.

Concerns have been raised that the impoverished country does not have the means to identify or respond to an outbreak.

The missile launches come after North Korea confirmed receipt of a letter from President Donald Trump offering assistance to combat any outbreak.

In a statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency, Kim Jong-un’s sister and policy aide said Trump had exercise “good judgement and proper action” in sending the letter.

“I would like to extend sincere gratitude to the U.S. president for sending his invariable faith to the Chairman,” she added.

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Trump and Kim have met on numerous occasions in recent years to negotiate the future of North Korea’s nuclear programme and the possible ending of economic sanctions.

No progress has been made since talks held in February of last year stalled amid disagreements over how quickly any disarming should take place.

 Kim Jong-un is known to personally attend missile tests

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Kim Jong-un is known to personally attend missile testsCredit: AP:Associated Press



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