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North Korea launches missile test amid coronavirus epidemic

Pyongyang fired two “projectiles” from near Wonsan, on the country’s east coast, into the Sea of Japan

North Korea has launched its first missile tests of the year despite the risk of coronavirus.

According to the South Korean military, two 'projectiles' were fired from near Wonsan, on the country’s east coast, into the Sea of Japan.

The missiles flew about 240km at an apogee of about 35km, a range similar to many of the 22 missiles North Korea tested last year.

The tests are therefore unlikely to be viewed as breaking Kim Jong Un’s self-imposed embargo on long-range missile and nuclear tests that followed the dictator’s landmark 2018 meeting with Donald Trump in Singapore.

The missile launch came as North Korean state media stated that as many as 7,000 people were being monitored for symptoms of the coronavirus, which has swept through neighbouring China and is now affecting South Korea.

Pyongyang acted on the virus some weeks ago, sharply reducing trade and travel from China. While no coronavirus cases have been officially confirmed in North Korea, analysts warned that the country was particularly vulnerable given its poor public health system.

South Korea, meanwhile, has seen the highest number of cases outside of China, with more than 4,000 confirmed cases.

The surge in confirmed infections has followed a marked increase in testing over the past two weeks. Around 60 per cent of those infected in the country are members of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus sect. The virus has also forced the South Korean military to quarantine 10,000 personnel after 25 soldiers tested positive for the virus.

FURTHER READING: Ethereum researcher indicted for helping North Korea

FURTHER READING: South Korea plans to impose capital gains tax on cryptocurrency profits

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