The official Korean news agency confirmed Thursday's missiles test and ran photographs of Kim inspecting a munitions factory.

Kim said he
Kim said he "highly appreciated" the factory's role in modernising his weapons programme. ()

North Korea test-fired two different weapons systems this week, state media has confirmed, part of a record-breaking streak of launches, as leader Kim Jong-un inspected an "important" munitions factory.

The official Korean Central News Agency on Friday said Thursday’s launch involved long-range cruise missiles flying over the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan, and hitting "the target island 1,800 km away."

KCNA ran photographs showing Kim, wearing his usual long black belted leather jacket, surrounded by uniformed officials, their faces pixelated out, and inspecting a munitions factory that produces "a major weapon system".

Kim said he "highly appreciated" the factory's role in modernising his weapons programme, KCNA reported.

KCNA did not mention Kim attending the weapons tests this week, but a separate state media report said he inspected a vegetable farm in the Ryonpho area of Hamju county, which is close to the site of the Thursday test.

Pyongyang has conducted six weapons tests in January, including hypersonic missiles, one of the most intense barrages in a calendar month on record, as it doubles down on Kim's military-boosting plans and ignores US offers of talks.

READ MORE: North Korea fires two more missiles in latest testing blitz

‘Positive propaganda’ 

The January launches are all part of North Korea's five-year weapons development plan to "upgrade its strategic arsenal," Hong Min of the Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul said.

"The cruise missiles fired Tuesday are an extension of the same type of missiles fired from last September with improvements in distance and speed," Hong Min added.

The string of tests are also a response to South Korea's own efforts to upgrade its weapons systems, with successful tests in 2021 of supersonic and new submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

He said it was also possible that Covid concerns had forced North Korea to modify its usual winter training schedule, prompting a shift to missile testing to ensure "positive propaganda" on national defence domestically.

"This could be all the more important at a time when the national economy is doing poorly and agricultural output may threaten famine-like conditions," he added.

The impoverished North, reeling economically from a self-imposed coronavirus blockade, has recently restarted cross-border trade with China.

READ MORE: North Korea hints at resuming nuclear, long-range missile tests

Source: TRTWorld and agencies