North Korea's nuclear-armed North Korea tested "extremely large multiple missile launchers," according to official media, on Monday, but without referring to its leader Kim Jong Un's supervision of the process, while analysts indicated that Pyongyang was seeking to normalize this type of test.
While the world's eyes are focused on the emerging Corona virus, as North Korea insists it has not reported any epidemic cases, the isolationist country conducted four similar tests this month.
Unusually, the official North Korean News Agency did not mention in its report that Kim supervised Sunday's test.
The North Korean leader almost always appears to be overseeing the missile launches, but this time the news agency stated that the operation was carried out under the supervision of the ruling Workers' Party's Vice-President Ri Byung-chul while conducted by the National Defense Science Academy.
For its part, South Korea reported that two projectiles, believed to be two ballistic missiles, were fired Sunday from the coastal city of Wonsan in North Korea towards the Sea of Japan.
Pictures carried by North Korea's official newspaper, "Rodong Sinmun", showed missile launchers carrying six launch tubes, hitting what appeared to be a target island. Kim did not appear in the pictures.
"Through Kim's absence, North Korea is trying to reduce the relevance of the operation and stress that the missile test is only part of a normal exercise," said Go Myung-Hyun, an analyst with the Asan Institute for Policy Study.
Kim was last absent from such an event in October when North Korea tested a new ballistic missile fired from a submarine. The test was then tested days before a prospective meeting between officials from Pyongyang and Washington in Stockholm to revive the frozen diplomacy.
But some analysts believe that he was in fact present as some of the purposes he usually used appeared.
Warnings about the virus
The series of tests coincide with the long-standing deadlock in nuclear disarmament talks with the United States, and despite Washington's openness by offering to help Pyongyang to contain the Covid-19 epidemic.
North Korea closed its borders in an attempt to protect itself from the emerging corona virus, and it is currently one of several countries that have not yet announced any cases of the virus that has killed more than 35 thousand people around the world.
However, the virus is likely to have reached the blackout country, while health experts have warned of its catastrophic consequences for it due to its poor medical infrastructure and widespread malnutrition.