(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with JCS explanation; RECASTS headline, lead)
By Song Sang-ho and Kang Yoon-seung
SEOUL, Jan. 30 (Yonhap) -- North Korea fired one apparent ballistic missile toward the East Sea on Sunday, South Korea's military said, in the recalcitrant regime's seventh show of force this year.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said it detected the launch from the northern province of Jagang bordering China at 7:52 a.m. It did not elaborate.
Jagang Province is where the North conducted the launches of its self-proclaimed hypersonic missiles in September last year and on Jan. 5 and 11.
"Our military is tracking and monitoring related North Korean movements and maintaining a readiness posture," the JCS said in a text message sent to reporters.
Pyongyang has been ratcheting up tensions with a series of missile launches since the start of this year as Washington has stepped up sanctions pressure amid a protracted deadlock in nuclear talks between the two countries.
The North launched the largest monthly number of projectiles in January since North Korean leader Kim Jong-un took power in late 2011. It conducted six projectile launches in both March and July 2014.
The North fired what it claims to be surface-to-surface tactical guided missiles Thursday, just two days after its apparent long-range cruise missile test.
It conducted four other launches earlier this month, including those of what it claimed to be hypersonic missiles.
The South Korean military has been keeping close tabs on North Korean military movements as the North made a thinly veiled threat to lift its yearslong moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests.
The recent bouts of the North's saber-rattling also came as it seeks to tighten internal unity amid the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and persistent economic woes stemming from debilitating sanctions.
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