When North Korea launches a missile, do they somehow tell Japan (or tell China who tells Japan, or tell many countries through some private group correspondence, or anything) that they intend for it to land in the water?

Of course, whatever they say could be a lie but, especially when it is truly a test, even an evil dictator should see the benefit of giving a warning/explanation. So, I would guess the answer is yes and am hoping someone might have the most likely communication details for yesterday's launch.

1 Answer 1


If any warning or information was given, it wasn't made public. It is possible that this information was transmitted in secret, but there is no evidence of this.

It is plausible and, given the highly secretive nature of the NK state, perhaps more likely that the launch was unannounced, even to the Chinese government.

The missile can be tracked, so the military can find where it is heading. These are ballistic missiles, so after it is launched, it uses its fuel and falls to Earth, fast. After the launch is tracked, the military can work out where the missile is heading.

After the launch, if it has been successful, then there is a public announcement through the NK media. Usually suggesting that the NK leader was personally involved in the launch.

  • Do you know if that public announcement is made before the missile hits water? Obviously, it would be more comforting for Japan to hear that it's just a test long before the missile comes down anywhere.
    – bobuhito
    Jul 4, 2017 at 20:57
  • 4
    Being "comforting" to Japan has never seemed to be a major priority of the NK government. The length of the flight is very short, because missiles move fast. I can't find details of timings, but I doubt that there is any announcement. When the missile is tracked, it is possible to find its trajectory, as it is a ballistic missile, ie not powered after launch.
    – James K
    Jul 4, 2017 at 21:24
  • @JamesK - it was powered after launch, just like a space launch. Time of flight was a little under 40 minutes. Jul 5, 2017 at 14:42
  • @simonatrcl - Ballistic missiles and space launch are powered mostly in the first minutes of flight. After that there are just small course corrections and -for space launch but not for ballistic missiles- orbit injection burns.
    – Pere
    Jun 16, 2019 at 15:41

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