North Korea fires suspected ICBM toward East Sea, sparks brief evacuation order in Japan

North Korea has test-launched a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that landed in the waters between Japan and the Korean Peninsula, prompting Tokyo to lodge a “strong protest.”

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement on Thursday that the launch was carried out in the vicinity of Pyongyang at 7:23 a.m. local time, and the missile, which was fired at a lofted angle, managed to fly some 1,000 kilometers before splashing into the water.

“The intelligence authorities of South Korea and the United States are conducting a comprehensive analysis on its detailed specifications,” it added, describing the launch as a “grave, provocative act.”

The South Korean Yonhap News Agency, citing an unnamed Seoul official, said that Pyongyang appeared to have tested a “new” missile system, adding that the allies were looking into “various” possibilities, including the launch having involved a solid-propellant intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

Following the launch, Seoul also convened an emergency meeting of its National Security Council, which also condemned the test-launch.

Japan, for its part, issued a rare alert that was later retracted for residents of its northern island of Hokkaido to seek immediate shelter, fearing that the missile might hit the island.

Japan’s emergency broadcasting system, known as J-Alert, told millions of inhabitants of Hokkaido to take immediate cover, but lifted it soon after, saying it had “erroneously” predicted that the missile, which appeared to be a long-range projectile, would fall near the island.

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