A North Korean missile is launched in this image released by the state-run Korean Central News Agency, Friday, Jan. 28, 2022.

A North Korean missile is launched in this image released by the state-run Korean Central News Agency, Friday, Jan. 28, 2022. (KCNA)

SEOUL, South Korea —North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile Thursday, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, the same day the regime’s chief diplomat amped up international rhetoric with a warning to the U.S. and its allies.

The missile, another in a record-breaking year for North Korean missile tests, launched from Kangwon province at 10:48 a.m., flew 150 miles and reached an altitude of 29 miles, according to an afternoon update by the Joint Chiefs.

“North Korea’s ballistic missile launch is a serious provocation that harms the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula,” the Joint Chiefs said in its message.

Japan’s Ministry of Defense said the missile, flying northeastward, presumably fell into the sea near the eastern coast of the Korean Peninsula, according to a news release on the ministry website. The ministry said the missile did not enter Japan’s territorial waters or exclusive economic zone.

“We strongly denounce these ballistic missile launches since they are violation of related United Nations Security Council resolutions,” the release stated.

Thursday’s launch is North Korea’s 32nd round of missile tests since January; the communist regime has fired over 65 missiles so far this year, an annual record. North Korea last fired a short-range ballistic missile toward the East Sea on Nov. 9.

Also Thursday, North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Sun-hui issued a “serious warning” to the U.S., Japan and South Korea, whose heads-of-state met Sunday at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The three agreed to strengthen their deterrence capabilities against North Korea.

“The recent [talks] will finally result in bringing the situation on the Korean Peninsula to an unpredictable phase,” Choe said, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency.

Referring to Vigilant Storm, a large military exercise earlier this month by the U.S. and South Korea, Choe said the allies “staged large-scale war drills for aggression,” but “failed to contain [North Korea’s] overwhelming counteraction and, on the contrary, it resulted in increasing their security crisis.”

An unsigned commentary published Wednesday in KCNA also referred to an Oct. 4 missile that arced over Japan as “a warning to the enemies to cope with the unstable situation prevailing on the Korean Peninsula.”

That missile, described by KCNA as a ground-to-ground intermediate-range ballistic missile, splashed into the Pacific Ocean after a take-cover alert sounded in northern Japan.

“Whether this warning will lead to a real result or not entirely depends on the attitude of the hostile forces including Japan,” the commentary in KCNA stated.

In response, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno at a Wednesday press briefing said North Korea’s unprecedented “spate of ballistic missile launches,” including the Oct. 4 launch, “are a serious and imminent threat to our security as well as a threat to the peace and stability of the region and the international community as a whole, and we cannot absolutely accept this.”

President Joe Biden, after meeting in Cambodia with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, said they had strengthened and deepened their commitment to meet threats from North Korea.

“This partnership is even more important than it’s ever been,” Biden said during a news conference Sunday.

Yoon, at the same news conference invoked the Oct. 29 crowd surge in Itaewon that killed at least 158 people and said that “at a time when South Koreans are grieving in deep sorrow, North Korea pushed ahead with such provocations.”

Stars and Stripes reporter Hana Kusumoto contributed to this report.

David Choi is based in South Korea and reports on the U.S. military and foreign policy. He served in the U.S. Army and California Army National Guard. He graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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