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N Korea at crossroads

North Korea fires short-range ballistic missiles, South Korea says

Pyongyang announces that legislature will hold session in April

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un guides artillery fire competition in this image released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency on March 20. (KCNA via Reuters)

SEOUL (Reuters) -- North Korea fired two projectiles appearing to be short-range ballistic missiles into the sea off the east coast of the Korean peninsula, South Korea's military said on Saturday.

Earlier this month, North Korea launched multiple projectiles into the sea as part of firing drills, according to South Korea's military, drawing U.S. and Chinese appeals for Pyongyang to return to talks on ending its nuclear and missile programs.

The apparent short-range missiles were fired from North Pyongan province, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said. The province is just above Pyongyang on the west coast of the Korean peninsula.

Japan's coast guard said on Saturday that North Korea appeared to have fired a missile, which landed outside Japan's exclusive economic zone waters.

Earlier on Saturday, state media KCNA said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un guided an artillery fire competition between combined units of the North Korean army on Friday.

North Korea announced on Saturday it will hold in April a session of the Supreme People's Assembly, its legislature, in Pyongyang, which analysts had said would involve gathering almost 700 of the country's leaders in one spot as the coronavirus spreads worldwide.

"If it goes ahead, it would be the ultimate show of (North Korea's) confidence in managing the coronavirus situation," Rachel Minyoung Lee, of the North Korea monitoring website NK News, said on Twitter this week.

North Korea has not reported any confirmed cases of the new coronavirus that was first detected in China late last year, though a top U.S. military official said last week he is "fairly certain" there were infections in North Korea.

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