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Kim Jong Un oversees launch of new North Korean surface-to-sea missile

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw the launch of a new surface-to-sea missile and gave instructions to bolster military strength near maritime borders, state-run media reported Thursday. Photo by KCNA/UPI
1 of 2 | North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw the launch of a new surface-to-sea missile and gave instructions to bolster military strength near maritime borders, state-run media reported Thursday. Photo by KCNA/UPI

SEOUL, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised the test of a "new-type surface-to-sea missile" and ordered a stronger defense posture near a contentious maritime border in the Yellow Sea, state-run media reported Thursday.

Kim guided the test-fire of the new missile, named the Padasuri-6, on Wednesday, Korean Central News Agency reported.

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An unspecified number of missiles flew for around 23 minutes over the East Sea before hitting a target boat, KCNA said.

South Korea's military said Wednesday that it had detected a launch of several cruise missiles from the east coast.

Kim also set out a plan for "reorganizing the combat formation of the coastal missile battalions of the east and the west sea fleets," the KCNA report said.

The North Korean leader specifically called for bolstering military strength in the border waters north of Yeonpyeong Island and Baengnyeong Island, which he said were "frequently invaded by the enemies' warships including destroyers, escort ships and speedboats."

The two South Korean islands are located near the de facto maritime border in the Yellow Sea known as the Northern Limit Line.

North Korea does not officially recognize the NLL, which was drawn unilaterally by the U.S.-led United Nations Command after the Korean War. The boundary area has been the location for a handful of naval skirmishes in the decades after the 1950-53 war, including the North's 2010 torpedo attack on a South Korean warship that left 46 dead.

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Kim has stepped up his bellicose rhetoric around the NLL recently. Last month he called the line "illegal" and warned that even the slightest violation of the North's territory would be considered a "war provocation."

On Thursday, Kim repeated the threats, saying the boundary was a "ghost ... without any ground in the light of international law or legal justification."

He stressed the need for North Korea to "thoroughly defend the maritime sovereignty by force of arms and actions, not by any rhetoric, statement and public notice."

South Korea's military responded on Thursday, saying it would continue to defend the Northern Limit Line.

"The NLL is the unchanging maritime boundary of our military, and our military will sternly respond to any provocation," Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman Lee Jung-soon said at a press briefing.

"We will resolutely punish them if they provoke us," Lee added.

Wednesday's launch marks the fifth time the North has fired cruise missiles since Jan. 24 and comes amid a flurry of weapons tests that have raised tensions on the Korean Peninsula to their highest point in years.

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