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North Korea 'fires missiles off coast' and says talks with 'impudent' South are over

Nicola Smith
The reported launch comes amid anger in Pyongyang at joint US-South Korea military exercise, which it has called a 'rehearsal for war' - AP

North Korea issued a stinging snub to Seoul on Friday, vowing that peace talks were over as it launched its sixth missile test in a month.

Pyongyang fired at least two short-range ballistic missiles at 8am, in a now familiar display of frustration at the lack of progress with the US over its nuclear weapons programme and the failure to lift harsh economic sanctions.

But it also stepped up its angry rhetoric against South Korea for its participation in joint military drills this month with the US, slamming Moon Jae-in, the South Korean president, as “impudent.”

The warning that inter-Korean talks are over will come as a blow to Mr Moon, who has devoted his presidency to pursuing peace with the North and appeared to have developed a warm rapport with Kim Jong-un, the North’s leader, meeting him on several occasions since April 2018.

“We have nothing to talk any more with the South Korean authorities nor have any idea to sit with them again,” Pyongyang said in a statement issued by its ruling party.

The rebuke included an unusually personal attack on Mr Moon for buying two advanced F-35A stealth fighter jets and US drone technology.

“He often calls for peace. Then is he going to make an excuse that the drones and fighters being purchased from the US are just for spreading agrochemicals and for circus fights?” said the statement.

It suggested the South Korean leader was terrified of the North’s military might.

“He used to get shocked into fright even at the sound of a sporting gun in the north,” said the statement’s official English version, although Jeongmin Kim, a journalist with NK News, revealed the original Korean as “He c**ps himself even when there’s just a sporting gun shot from the North.”

The colourful put-down came just one day after Mr Moon had used his speech to mark the 74th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japan’s 1910-1945 rule to call for the rekindling of peace talks with Pyongyang.

Mr Moon vowed to realise unification between North and South by 2045 and to host a joint Seoul-Pyongyang Olympics in 2032.

On Friday, Seoul’s unification ministry expressed “deep regret” over North Korea’s verbal attack on Mr Moon and urged it to maintain a spirit of mutual respect.

South Korea’s presidential office also called on North Korea to halt the launches of projectiles, expressing concern that the tests could escalate military tensions on the peninsula, reported Yonhap.

Friday’s two short-range missiles involved ballistic technology and flew around 142 miles to an altitude of 18 miles. They were believed to be similar to missiles fired in previous weeks.

The latest launch comes during a diplomatic stalemate between the US and North Korea over how to deal with Pyongyang’s nuclear and long-range missiles programme. Washington has repeatedly expressed hope it can revive talks in the near future.