North Korea Fires ICBM as US-South Korea & Japan-South Korea Summits Take Place

North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Thursday, hours ahead of a major Japan-South Korea summit to discuss issues including cooperation in responding to Pyongyang's threats. South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the launch of a long-range ballistic missile took place at around 7:10 a.m. local time from an area near Pyongyang’s main international airport, where North Korea has a facility to launch ICBMs designed to carry a warhead to the US. The missile flew for about 70 minutes and traveled about 1,000 kilometers at a maximum altitude of over 6,000 km before falling outside of Japan’s exclusive economic zone.[0]

The launch of the missile coincided with ongoing US-South Korean military drills, which have been ramped up in response to North Korea’s increased weapons tests, and a proposal to end several years of feuding over compensation for Japan’s use of Korean forced labor during its 1910-45 occupation of the peninsula.[1] South Korean President Yoon Seok Yeol traveled to Japan for a rare summit with his Japanese counterpart, hours after the launch, with the leaders expected to discuss deepening military coordination in response to the growing threat from Pyongyang.[2]

The US also “strongly condemned” North Korea's latest ICBM test, saying it “needlessly raises tensions and risks destabilizing the security situation in the region.”[3] Japan lodged a protest with North Korea and strongly condemned its first ICBM test since Feb. 18, which was the sixth time this year for North Korea to launch a ballistic missile.[4]

Kishida said Thursday ahead of Yoon’s arrival that he believes that maintaining peace and stability in the region is an important issue and that Tokyo needs to work even more closely with its allies and like-minded countries.[5] The US and South Korea began the so-called Freedom Shield exercises, which include field drills and computer simulations, on Monday, which North Korea has denounced as a rehearsal for invasion.[6] Kim Yo Jong warned that the Pacific Ocean would become a “firing range” if the US continued to conduct drills.[1]

It is clear that North Korea’s missile activities have grown unprecedentedly intense in the past year, as Pyongyang has been pursuing a large-scale modernization agenda while also stepping up its rehearsals for possible nuclear war.[7]

0. “North Korea Fires ICBM-Class Missile into Sea of Japan”, 16 Mar. 2023,

1. “South Korea's Yoon Arrives in Japan Hours After North Fires ICBM” msnNOW, 16 Mar. 2023,

2. “Yoon Lands in Japan, as North Korea Launches ICBM” Voice of America – VOA News, 16 Mar. 2023,

3. “North Korea fires ICBM-class missile ahead of Japan-South Korea summit” Kyodo News Plus, 15 Mar. 2023,

4. “North Korean Missile Falls Down Outside Japan's Exclusive Ec…” MENAFN.COM, 16 Mar. 2023,

5. “Pyongyang fires ICBM ahead of Seoul-Tokyo summit” La Prensa Latina, 16 Mar. 2023,

6. “North Korea launches ICBM ahead of South Korea-Japan summit” Al Jazeera English, 16 Mar. 2023,

7. “How Some U.S. Satellite Data Could Aid Japan and South Korea Against North Korea” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 14 Mar. 2023,