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North Korea fires suspected short-range missiles into the sea in its latest weapons test

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North Korea fires suspected short-range missiles into the sea in its latest weapons test
News

News

North Korea fires suspected short-range missiles into the sea in its latest weapons test

2024-04-22 17:34 Last Updated At:18:00

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea on Monday test-fired suspected short-range ballistic missiles into the sea, the country’s neighbors said, as speculation swirled that it could soon launch a banned satellite into orbit.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the weapons launched from the North’s capital region flew about 300 kilometers (185 miles) before crashing in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. The ranges suggest the weapons could likely target sites in South Korea.

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A TV screen shows a file image of North Korea's missiles launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, April 22, 2024. North Korea fired multiple suspected short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters on Monday, South Korea's military said, the latest in a recent series of weapons launches by the North. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea on Monday test-fired suspected short-range ballistic missiles into the sea, the country’s neighbors said, as speculation swirled that it could soon launch a banned satellite into orbit.

A TV screen shows a file image of North Korea's missiles launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, April 22, 2024. North Korea fired multiple suspected short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters on Monday, South Korea's military said, the latest in a recent series of weapons launches by the North. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

A TV screen shows a file image of North Korea's missiles launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, April 22, 2024. North Korea fired multiple suspected short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters on Monday, South Korea's military said, the latest in a recent series of weapons launches by the North. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

A TV screen shows a file image of North Korea's missile launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, April 22, 2024. North Korea fired multiple suspected short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters on Monday, South Korea's military said, the latest in a recent series of weapons launches by the North. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

A TV screen shows a file image of North Korea's missile launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, April 22, 2024. North Korea fired multiple suspected short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters on Monday, South Korea's military said, the latest in a recent series of weapons launches by the North. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

A TV screen shows a file image of North Korea's missiles launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, April 22, 2024. North Korea fired multiple suspected short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters on Monday, South Korea's military said, the latest in a recent series of weapons launches by the North. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

A TV screen shows a file image of North Korea's missiles launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, April 22, 2024. North Korea fired multiple suspected short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters on Monday, South Korea's military said, the latest in a recent series of weapons launches by the North. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

FILE - In this photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, supervises artillery firing drills in North Korea Thursday, March 7, 2024. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: "KCNA" which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File)

FILE - In this photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, supervises artillery firing drills in North Korea Thursday, March 7, 2024. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: "KCNA" which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File)

The Joint Chiefs of Staff strongly condemned the launches, saying they were a “clear provocation” that threatens peace on the Korean Peninsula. It said it will maintain readiness to “overwhelmingly” respond to North Korean provocations in step with its military alliance with the United States.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters that North Korea launched at least one ballistic missile that flew 250 kilometers (155 miles) at a maximum altitude of about 50 kilometers (30 miles). He said that North Korea's repeated missiles tests and other provocative actions threaten the peace and safety of Japan, the region and the international community.

Japan’s coast guard urged ships to use caution against falling objects, but there were no immediate reports of damage.

North Korea in recent months has maintained an accelerated pace in weapons testing as it continues to expand its military capabilities while diplomacy with the United States and South Korea remained stalled. Observers say North Korea likely believes an upgraded weapons arsenal would give it leverage to win greater concessions from the U.S. if negotiations resume.

North Korea said Saturday that it tested a “super-large” cruise missile warhead and a new anti-aircraft missile in a western coastal area earlier last week. In early April, North Korea also test-launched what it called a solid-fuel intermediate-range missile with hypersonic warhead capabilities, a weapon that experts say is meant to attack remote targets in the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam and beyond.

In past years, North Korea has test-fired nuclear-capable missiles designed to strike sites in South Korea, Japan and the mainland U.S. Many experts say North Korea already possesses nuclear missiles that can reach all of South Korea and Japan, but it has yet to develop functioning intercontinental ballistic missiles that can travel to the continental U.S.

In response to North Korea’s evolving nuclear threats, the United States and South Korea have been strengthening their bilateral military drills and trilateral exercises with Japan. On Monday, the chairman of South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, Kim Myung-soo, met with U.S. Space Command Commander Stephen N. Waiting for discussions on countering North Korean threats, according to South Korea’s military.

Some experts say North Korea could launch its second spy satellite this month to mark a key anniversary such as the April 15 birthday of its founder Kim Il Sung, the late grandfather of leader Kim Jong Un, or the April 25 founding anniversary of a predecessor of the North’s military.

U.N. Security Council resolutions ban North Korea from launching both ballistic missiles and satellites. The world body considers a satellite launch a test of its prohibited ballistic missile technology.

South Korea’s military said Monday that it had detected evidence that North Korea is preparing for a spy satellite launch but there are no signs that it’s imminent.

Last November, North Korea placed what it called its first military spy satellite into orbit, though there are widespread doubts about its capability. In late December, Kim Jong Un said North Korea would launch three additional military spy satellites in 2024.

Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this report.

A TV screen shows a file image of North Korea's missiles launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, April 22, 2024. North Korea fired multiple suspected short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters on Monday, South Korea's military said, the latest in a recent series of weapons launches by the North. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

A TV screen shows a file image of North Korea's missiles launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, April 22, 2024. North Korea fired multiple suspected short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters on Monday, South Korea's military said, the latest in a recent series of weapons launches by the North. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

A TV screen shows a file image of North Korea's missiles launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, April 22, 2024. North Korea fired multiple suspected short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters on Monday, South Korea's military said, the latest in a recent series of weapons launches by the North. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

A TV screen shows a file image of North Korea's missiles launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, April 22, 2024. North Korea fired multiple suspected short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters on Monday, South Korea's military said, the latest in a recent series of weapons launches by the North. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

A TV screen shows a file image of North Korea's missile launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, April 22, 2024. North Korea fired multiple suspected short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters on Monday, South Korea's military said, the latest in a recent series of weapons launches by the North. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

A TV screen shows a file image of North Korea's missile launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, April 22, 2024. North Korea fired multiple suspected short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters on Monday, South Korea's military said, the latest in a recent series of weapons launches by the North. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

A TV screen shows a file image of North Korea's missiles launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, April 22, 2024. North Korea fired multiple suspected short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters on Monday, South Korea's military said, the latest in a recent series of weapons launches by the North. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

A TV screen shows a file image of North Korea's missiles launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, April 22, 2024. North Korea fired multiple suspected short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters on Monday, South Korea's military said, the latest in a recent series of weapons launches by the North. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

FILE - In this photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, supervises artillery firing drills in North Korea Thursday, March 7, 2024. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: "KCNA" which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File)

FILE - In this photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, supervises artillery firing drills in North Korea Thursday, March 7, 2024. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: "KCNA" which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — If truth has the power to set one free, then Rapsody’s new album, “Please Don’t Cry,” has removed her from emotional imprisonment and gifted her immeasurable liberation.

“People put up a mirror for me. I sat in the mirror myself…it was the beginning of healing. Heart-broke: Why do you feel like you can’t fill the void of whatever that was? Internally, why do you feel underappreciated?” questioned the three-time Grammy nominee. "And really allow myself, again, to just sit in a fire and burn. To forgive myself for some things. To accept some things. To learn to love myself."

Rapsody's not only frequently lauded by critics as the best female lyricist, but also as one of the best in the genre. After 2019’s critically-acclaimed “Eve” album, discussions by hip-hop purists erupted on social media and in barbershops near and far debating her potentially rivaling Kendrick Lamar for the lyrical throne. But the recognition hasn’t translated into the commercial success of some female peers — veterans like Nicki Minaj and Cardi B, or recent newcomers like Megan Thee Stallion, Latto or Ice Spice. But her plight isn’t unusual for rappers labeled as “continuous” or extremely lyrical, regardless of gender.

“I was looking at what everybody else was doing instead of worrying about myself,” she said, soft-spoken throughout the interview. “I’d see comments (saying), ‘She makes great music, but she’ll never make it because she’s not half-naked or she don’t have a No. 1 hit.’ And I had to realize that those are really false measurements.”

“Please Don’t Cry,” released in May, is by far the most personal of her four studio albums. Dwindling more than 350 potential songs down to the final 22 tracks, the bulk of the production comes from HIT-BOY, BLK ODYSSY and S1, and boasts star-powered features including Erykah Badu and Lil Wayne. The regal voice of Phylicia Rashad is also sprinkled throughout.

The North Carolina native began constructing the album several years ago after a painful breakup and toward the beginning of the global coronavirus pandemic. Personal tales have always lived within her music, but the foundation of her catalogue is anchored by expert lyricism and musicality.

“I’ve always thought that I was authentic. But at the same time, I realized there was a level of fear there — a fear of allowing myself to be seen completely. But at that time, I don’t even think I completely even knew who I was,” said the 41-year-old Marlanna Evans who kept Lauryn Hill’s “MTV Unplugged No. 2.0” project in heavy rotation while creating, along with an evolving Pinterest board filled with pictures and words for inspiration.

“Please Don't Cry” has a weightier R&B influence than past projects. Standout tracks include the Badu-assisted “3:AM,” the lead single “Asteroids,” “Stand Tall,” “Faith” and “God’s Light.” While her razor-sharp bars still slice on songs like “Raw” with Lil Wayne and Niko Brim, the album makes its mark by entering a new territory of unapologetic vulnerability. Rapsody touches on insecurities, not having a stronger female fanbase, family members battling dementia and speculation surrounding her sexuality.

On the surprisingly transparent “That One Time,” the past Stevie Wonder, Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole collaborator provides a rare glimpse into her love life and past transgressions.

“One time, I had an experience with a woman. But I also bring up that I was with somebody that wasn’t available,” said the Jehovah’s Witness-raised artist of her relationship with a married person, while suggesting her partner wasn't fully honest. “I make mistakes, too — things I say I would never do, and then I find myself in a situation that I’m not proud of. But in my life and the conversations I have, I know I’m not the only one.”

Bianca Edwards, vice president of marketing for Roc Nation, says the vulnerability displayed showcases Rapsody’s security in her music and herself.

“You have to be extremely confident to bare your soul and not care what people think,” said Edwards. “And on this project, I think that she bared a lot.”

Always advocating for female rappers, Rapsody has consistently rejected praise meant to criticize her peers. But while there are songs like “Look What You’ve Done” in which she rhymes, “Don’t lift me up throwin’ shade/At my sisters that made it out wit’ a-- and bass,” she also raps, “Everything look cookie cutter/We seen enough a—, that sh-- ain’t special no more” on “Diary of a Mad Bitch.”

“I see my name brought up a lot of times used to put other women down for how they choose to show up in this art and in their life, and I’m not here for that. I’m not trying to make myself the standard. I’m just trying to make myself another example of what women in hip-hop look like to bring harmony,” said Rapsody. “With ‘Diary,’ it was me making an observation of everybody looks the same…I know we’re not clones.”

But despite a profession where cosmetic enhancements are common among female rappers – along with sexually-charged lyrics that contribute to their pop stardom – the “Complexion (A Zulu Love)” artist says she's never considered altering her body.

“My question is why isn’t there space for me or others who are different from what we see on a mainstream level…why don’t we get those same opportunities?” asked the self-described tomboy who also suffers from Graves’ disease which can change physical appearance. “I never wanted to be anything other than who I was.”

Rapsody says while every artist dreams of creating a hit record, she’s not willing to compromise her musical integrity or chase songs that don’t feel natural to attract more fans.

“I think she already found her place,” said Edwards. “I work with a lot of artists, and I’ve met artists that are still trying to find themselves. That’s not Rap.”

A tour will launch in September with five European dates and a North American leg that will run through October.

“Please Don’t Cry” has fortified Rapsody's healing journey, and she’s better for it.

“Everybody asks me about this album, like ‘How you feeling?’ I say I feel really happy and I’m at peace. And this is the most free I’ve ever felt,” she said. “I’m not putting pressure on myself to be defined as success through other people’s measurements of what that looks like.”

Follow Associated Press entertainment journalist Gary Gerard Hamilton at: @GaryGHamilton on all his social media platforms.

Rapsody poses for a portrait on Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Gary Gerard Hamilton)

Rapsody poses for a portrait on Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Gary Gerard Hamilton)

Rapsody poses for a portrait on Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Gary Gerard Hamilton)

Rapsody poses for a portrait on Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Gary Gerard Hamilton)

Rapsody poses for a portrait on Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Gary Gerard Hamilton)

Rapsody poses for a portrait on Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Gary Gerard Hamilton)

Rapsody poses for a portrait on Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Gary Gerard Hamilton)

Rapsody poses for a portrait on Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Gary Gerard Hamilton)

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