Cross-over: North Korea launches two short-range missilesUpdated: 2014-03-03 12:02:36 KST
Turning now to Pyongyang's latest provocation
North Korea fired two short-range missiles off its eastern coast on Monday morning, the second such launch in well under a week.
For more on the launch and its implications on inter-Korean relations, let's cross live to our correspondent Hwang Sung-hee at Seoul's Unification Ministry.
Sung-hee, what can you tell us?
South Korea's Defense Ministry remains on high alert after North Korea fired what were believed to be two Scud-C short-range missiles into the East Sea at around 6:20a.m., Korea time that's around six hours ago.
The ministry said the missiles flew about 500 kilometers, a distance which means the missiles can hit targets in South Korea and Japan.
The launch comes just days after the North fired four short-range missiles from the same location.
Such launches of short-range missiles by Pyongyang are a common part of its regular military drills, but Seoul sees the latest string of launches as an intentional provocation in protest against the annual joint military exercises between South Korea and the U.S.
North Korea opposes such exercises and every year, the drills routinely spark tensions among the three countries.
Could this latest launch set inter-Korean relations back a bit? There were signs of thawing ties in recent weeks.
Among North Korea watchers, these kind of launches are considered a low-degree provocation compared to last year's saber rattling from Pyongyang, which included threats of nuclear war against Seoul and Washington.
This comes amid relatively amicable inter-Korean ties and just a week after the two Koreas wrapped up a successful reunion event for war-separated families.
It seems North Korea has either taken a step back or is trying to build its ground before entering another round of negotiations with the South.
Just last week, the regime released a video clip of South Korean missionary Kim Jeong-uk, who has been detained in the North since October, but refuses to reply to Seoul's offer to discuss the issue.
This, as the regime decided to free Australian missionary John Short who was arrested last month.
The Korean Central News Agency reported Monday that the North Korean government decided to expel Mr. Short, thanks to the tolerance of its law and in consideration of his age.
It said the 75-year-old Australian committed a criminal act by secretly spreading his Bible tracts around a Buddhist temple in Pyongyang.
Also, the North remains tight-lipped on South Korea's offer made last week to hold working-level talks for sending aid to the regime to counter an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in pigs there.
The unification ministry says the Koreas will meet for Red Cross talks in the coming days as agreed by the two sides at their previous meeting and although the exact date of the talks remain undecided, experts say the South could make an offer sometime this week.
It looks like we will just have to wait and see what happens.
Well thank you, Sung-hee for your report. That was our Hwang Sung-hee reporting from the unification ministry in Seoul on the latest developments out of North Korea.
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I've noticed South Korean missionaries caught in the DPRK are jailed. White Caucasians who commit criminal acts are released.