North Korea threats
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is seen addressing a gathering in Pyongyang in this undated photo KCNA via Reuters

The US, South Korea and Japan are to hold a vice-ministerial level meeting over emerging threats from North Korea. The top-level discussions have been scheduled after Pyongyang test-fired its medium-range ballistic missile, Musudan, twice in quick succession.

Deputy foreign ministers of the three countries — Lim Sung-nam of South Korea, Tony Bliken of the US, and Shinsuke Sugiyama of Japan — will take part in the security talks in Tokyo on Thursday (28 October).

The South Korean foreign ministry said in a statement: "The situation is graver than ever due to the North's continued provocations. During the meeting, we will have an in-depth discussion on coordination among the three countries in the face of the North's threat and provocations, while seeking to intensify additional sanctions of our own and pressure against it."

This will be the fifth such talks between the three countries — sharply aligned against the Kim Jong-un regime — since April 2016. Lim is also expected to hold detailed bilateral talks with the two diplomats separately. The countries are likely to come up with a strong warning against Pyongyang during the trilateral discussions by charting the next course of action.

The North shows no signs of scaling down its defiant acts — missile and nuclear tests that are in violation of UN regulations — despite repeated condemnation from nations and global bodies including the UN. So far, the hermit kingdom has conducted eight tests of its Musudan missiles (seven of them failed) while carrying out two nuclear detonations in 2016 alone.

All these have escalated tensions in the Korean peninsula in recent months with the North's adversaries in the region stepping up their military efforts constantly.