north korea
North Korean leader could send underperforming athletes to work in coal mines Picture: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reacts during a test-fire of an anti-tank guided weaponReuters

North Korea on Thursday reportedly fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea, defying the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution. It also announced that Pyongyang would liquidate all South Korean assets that are in its territory.

The two missiles were test-fired at around 5:20 a.m. from North Hwanghae Province into the sea, off the coast of the port city of Wonsan, Yonhap news agency quoted the joint chief of staff (JCS) as saying. The missiles flew about 500 kilometres.

"The military is keeping close tabs on the situation and prepared to deal with any North Korean provocations," the JCS said.

The move comes after South Korea Tuesday announced its decision to impose sanctions on the North for the Jan. 6 nuclear test and Feb. 7 rocket launch. The UNSC last week approved new sanctions, said to be the toughest ever adopted against the North.

North Korea also nullified all agreements on economic cooperation adopted by Pyongyang and Seoul, liquidating South Korea's assets.

"From this moment, we declare all the North-South agreements on economic cooperation and exchange null and void," Yonhap quoted a spokesperson of the committee responsible for hand-lining inter-Korean affairs.

South Korea had, on Feb. 10, shut down operations at the Kaesong Industrial Complex in North Korea in response to former's violation of a nuclear programme. Seoul's firms at the complex provide $100 million total income to about 53,000 Pyongyang's workers every year.

The North froze all of the South's assets after the shut down and expelled the latter's employees. The assets at the industrial complex has been estimated to have a value of 820 billion won ($663 million), according to an association representing the 120 firms that operated factories in Kaesong.

"No one can liquidate private assets unilaterally. I appeal to both the South and the North to consider the companies' interests and allow us to come to the North and wrap things up," association's head Jeong Gi-Seob told Agence France-Presse, calling the move "outrageous."

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