North Korea fired at least ten missiles into the ocean off its east and west coastlines on Wednesday. One of these missiles flew dangerously close to South Korean waters, raising the possibility of an airstrike on a populated island, where residents took cover.

Although all the missiles fell in international seas, the South's Defense Ministry claimed that the exchange marked the first time missiles had been launched across the maritime border between the Koreas.

According to The New York Times, South Korea responded back by launching missiles from fighter jets into waters near the borders of the North.

After one of North Korea's missiles struck Ulleung, an island off the east coast of South Korea with a population of about 9,000, the military sounded an air-raid alert. Lt. Gen. Kang Shin Chul, the chief director of operations for the South Korean military, called the launch "a highly unusual and terrible conduct."

Later, the South's military stated that three warning air-to-land missiles were launched into international waters by its F-15K and KF-16 fighter jets, which were not too close to the North's own territorial waters. The area around Ulleung was closed to air travel until Thursday morning, according to the South Korean ministry of transportation.

The encounter heightened the recently escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula. The launch near Ulleung, according to Yoon Suk-Yeol, president of the South, "amounted to invading South Korea's territorial waters." according to his office.

President Yoon Suk-Yeol convened a meeting of the National Security Council and criticized the "unprecedented" launches amid a period of national mourning for the 156 people who died in the Itaewon crowd crush at the weekend.

After the NSC meeting, he was quoted as saying that launching a missile south of the NLL was "tantamount to territorial intrusion," His office promised a "quick and forceful response" to make sure North Korea "pays the price for provocation," according to Al Jazeera.

The President of South Korea asserts that it would be preferable for the South to put more pressure on China to put more pressure on Pyongyang through multilaterally tightening sanctions and enhancing US-South Korea-Japan security cooperation.

After executing an unprecedented number of weapons tests this year - more than double the launch record set in 2019 - there are worries that North Korea may soon start nuclear testing.

The launch on Wednesday was one of Pyongyang's most major missile bombardments since 2010, according to The Independent.

With this, Pyongyang launched more than 60 missiles this year alone, including almost 50 ballistic missiles. The majority of these shots were aimed at the East Sea.

Japan also reported the launch, although it did not confirm how many missiles were launched. The Wednesday morning missile launch, according to Seoul's army lieutenant general Kang-Shin-Chul, represents a significant escalation because it is possibly the first this year to have breached South Korea's exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

According to Seoul-based NK News, the JCS's chief director of operations stated in a video announcement that this was also the first time a DPRK missile had landed close to South Korea's territorial waters south of the Northern Limit Line, which is only 104 miles (167 km) northeast of the island and only 35 miles (57 km) east of Seoul's coastal city of Sokcho.

A South Korean F-15K fighter fires two Joint Direct Attack Munition bombs
In this handout image released by the South Korean Defense Ministry, A South Korean F-15K fighter fires two Joint Direct Attack Munition (JADAM) bombs into an island target in response to North Korea's intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) launch earlier in the day, on October 04, 2022 at an undisclosed location. North Korea fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) over Japan on Tuesday in its first launch of an IRBM in eight months, according to South Korea’s military. Photo by South Korean Defense Ministry via Getty Images

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