Feb. 13 (UPI) -- The commander of North Korea's Strategic Rocket Forces was conspicuously absent on Sunday, when Pyongyang launched what it described as a midrange ballistic missile.
Lt. Gen. Kim Rak Kyom's absence at a missile launch, described as a success in North Korea state media, is drawing speculation that the senior military official may have been censured, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported Monday.
Analyses of footage from Pyongyang's KCTV, images published by state news agency KCNA and Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun, indicate Kim did not show up at Panghyon airfield, where leader Kim Jong Un was reportedly present to observe the launch.
Instead, North Korea's Workers' Party central committee first deputy leader Ri Byong Chol was seen informing Kim Jong Un of the site as he prepared for the launch.
Kim Rak Kyom was also absent from an event marking the 69th anniversary of North Korea's regular army last Tuesday, which reports to Hwang Pyong So, the political director of the military.
But some analysts in South Korea say Kim Rak Kyom may not have been included in the entourage of 20 military officials because he was preparing a bigger provocation, including an intercontinental ballistic missile test.
The military officer was last seen on Sept. 5, 2016, with North Korea's Hwasong artillery unit.
The lieutenant general also may have been rebuked for the failure of a midrange Musudan missile test launch, a Seoul official told Yonhap.
Kim has been in charge of North Korea missile tests since 2013, according to the report.
On Monday South Korea's unification ministry condemned the test and said Seoul expects additional North Korea military provocations.
"[The provocations] are a serious military and security threat," the unification ministry spokesman said, according to News 1.