South Korea accidentally hit its own base with missile while warning the North

Should we be worried about South Korea's capabilities?
Ameya Paleja
South Korea And US Hold Joint Live-fire Exercise.
South Korea And US Hold Joint Live-fire Exercise.

Getty Images 

The South Korean military accidentally hit its own Air Force base during a joint exercise it was conducting with the U.S. The incident did not result in any casualties, although it left a lot of civilians in the area worried.

Tensions between North and South Korea have always run rife but have assumed more significance in recent days after North Korea has carried out as many as six missile launches in the past two weeks. According to the BBC, the country has justified its launches since the U.S., Japan, and South Korea have been carrying out a series of combined exercises for the past months.

Early on Tuesday, North Korea fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) that flew over nearly 3,000 miles (4,600 km) over Japan and landed in the Pacific Ocean, The Korea Times reported.

The U.S. and South Korean response

In a coordinated drill, the U.S. and South Korea launched two missiles each. The U.S. took to its long-trusted, surface-to-surface missile, the 190-mile (305 km)-range Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS).

South Korea launched the domestically produced, Hyunmoo-2 missiles. Developed over the years, the Hyunmoo-2 missiles have a range of up to 341 miles (550 km). Given the proximity to North Korea, a Hyunmoo-2 missile fired from interior South Korea is expected to reach any target in the North.

However, on this occasion, one of the missiles malfunctioned and landed on one of its own air force bases. According to NK News, the missile landed less than half a mile from civilian houses.

According to reports on social media, there was a loud explosion which was followed by a fire. It had locals worried that the area was possibly under attack, with no official confirmation coming in till the next day morning.

The South Korean military later confirmed that the explosion was due to one of its own missiles, and the fire was the result of the burning rocket fuel. The mishap does raise a few doubts over the capabilities of the U.S. allies in the region.

What will happen next?

The U.S. Air Force has already dispatched F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 35th Fighter Squadron at Kunsan Air Base while the aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagen, will also return to the Korean peninsula, having just left the region, Gizmodo said in its report.

These moves will further escalate tensions in the area, which have been simmering for the past few months now. North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un revised the country's nuclear laws and has declared the northern territory to be an "irreversible" nuclear power, the BBC report said.

Satellite imagery shows that North Korea has been restoring the tunnels of its nuclear test site that it had claimed were destroyed in 2018. Experts told the BBC that they expected North Korea to carry out its seventh nuclear missile test in the weeks leading up to the mid-term elections in the U.S. in November this year.

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