Asia Pacific

North Korea rattled by 'natural' earthquake, South's weather agency reports

Staff Report

South Korea’s state weather agency said Saturday that a 3.5 magnitude “natural” earthquake had hit the southern part of North Korea.

The Korea Meteorological Administration said damage from the quake, which occurred 31 km northwest of Pyonggang county in the North Korea’s Kangwon province, was unlikely. It hit at a depth of 17 km at 3:11 p.m.

Earthquakes in North Korea typically garner much attention, since many have been linked to Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program. In the past, nuclear tests by the North have caused tremors and mini-quakes around the northern border it shares with China.

In September 2017, a test conducted at North Korea’s now-shuttered Punggye-ri nuclear site, under Mount Mantap, triggered a 6.3 magnitude earthquake that was felt across China’s northern border.

Chinese seismologists at the time concluded that the Punggye-ri site had partially collapsed, rendering it unusable, following the massive bomb blast, which the North claimed was a hydrogen bomb test.

Experts later cast doubt on that claim, with Jeffrey Lewis, of the Middlebury Institute of Strategic Studies, commenting that there was “no evidence” that it was unusable.

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