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North Korea launches ballistic missile from submarine in latest test: reports

People in a railway station in Seoul, South Korea watch a news broadcast with file footage of a North Korean missile test on May 7, 2022. North Korea launched a submarine-based ballistic missile test earlier that day.
People in a railway station in Seoul, South Korea watch a news broadcast with file footage of a North Korean missile test on May 7, 2022. North Korea launched a submarine-based ballistic missile test earlier that day. (Image credit: JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images)

North Korea launched a new ballistic missile test from a submarine off the country's east coast Saturday (May 7), according to military officials in South Korea. 

The South Korean military detected the submarine-launched ballistic missile test off the coast of the North Korean city of Sinpo at 2:07 p.m. local time, according to the Yonhap News Agency (opens in new tab)

The missile flew about 372 miles (600 kilometers) and reached a maximum altitude of 37 miles (60 km), Yonhap added, suggesting the missile did not reach the boundary of space (about 62 miles or 100 km) through which other ballistic missiles fly. It apparently fell back to Earth in the waters outside of Japan's exclusive economic zone, according the Associated Press (opens in new tab).

The launch marks North Korea's 15th missile test this year and comes just three days after its most recent test, a land-based flight from Sunan, near the North Korean capital of Pyongyang. It also comes just three days before South Korea's new President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol is to be inaugurated.

Related: North Korea's rocket and missile program (photos)

U.S. and South Korean intelligence officials are reportedly investigating the Saturday's missile test as a "serious threatening act that harms international peace and stability" and violates U.N. Security Council resolutions, according the AP (opens in new tab)

"The North's recent series of missile launches are acts of serious threat that undermine peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the international community, and a clear violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions," South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement according to Yonhap (opens in new tab). "Preparing against the possibility of an additional launch, our military is tracking and monitoring related movements, and maintaining a full readiness posture."

North Korea has stepped up its missile testing activities in recent months, which included its first long-range ballistic missile test since 2017. That intercontinental ballistic missile test occurred in March, reaching an altitude of 3,700 miles (6,000 kilometers) and traveling 680 miles (1,100 km) down range from its launch site before splashing down in the waters of Japan.

Saturday's submarine-based launch was the first since an October 2021 flight that launched a short-range missile from the 8.24 Yongung submarine, the AP reported. Yonhap described that launch as a test of a "mini-SLBM" (mini-submarine launched ballistic missile).

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Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter.