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(CNN) — North Korea launched three short-range guided missiles into the sea off the Korean Peninsula’s east coast Saturday, South Korea’s semi-official news agency Yonhap cited the South Korean Defense Ministry as saying.
The ministry said it had detected two launches in the morning, followed by another in the afternoon, Yonhap reported.
The missiles were fired in a northeasterly direction, away from South Korean waters, the ministry said.
South Korea has beefed up monitoring on North Korea and is maintaining a high-level of readiness to deal with any risky developments, the ministry added, according to Yonhap.
According to the Arms Control Association, a U.S.-based organization, short-range guided missiles are generally classified as those traveling less than 1,000 kilometers (about 620 miles.)
Kim Jong-Un visits the Ministry of People’s Security on Wednesday, May 1, as part of the country’s May Day celebrations.
A North Korea soldier gestures to stop photographers from taking photos from a Chinese tour boat as other soldiers look on along the North Korean bank of the Yalu River near the town of Sinuiji across the Chinese city of Dandong in Liaoning province, China, on Saturday, April 6. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has ordered the country’s military to increase artillery production, a televised report out of Pyongyang showed on Saturday.
North Korean soldiers gather by the docks in Sinuiju near the Chinese border on Thursday, April 4.
North Korean soldiers patrol along the Yalu River in Sinuiju across the border from the Chinese city of Dandong on April 4.
Kim Jong Un is briefed by his generals in this undated photo. On the wall is a map titled “Plan for the strategic forces to target mainland U.S.”
Kim Jong Un works during a briefing in this undated photo.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects drills by the Korean People’s Army navy at an undisclosed location on North Korea’s east coast on March 25 in a photo from the state-run Korean Central News Agency.
Kim makes his way to an observation post with North Korean soldiers on March 25.
Kim uses a pair of binoculars to look south from the Jangjae Islet Defense Detachment near South Korea’s Taeyonphyong Island on March 7.
Kim is greeted by the family of a soldier as he inspects Jangjae Islet Defense Detachment near South Korea’s Taeyonphyong Island in South Hwanghae province on Thursday, March 7, in a photo from the state-run Korean Central News Agency.
Kim is surrounded by soldiers during a visit to the Mu Islet Hero Defense Detachment near South Korea’s Taeyonphyong Island on March 7. North Korea has escalated its bellicose rhetoric, threatening nuclear strikes, just before the U.N. Security Council passed tougher sanctions against the secretive nation on March 7.
Kim arrives at Jangjae Islet by boat to meet with soldiers of the Jangjae Islet Defense Detachment near Taeyonphyong Island in South Hwanghae province on March 7.
Soldiers in the North Korean army train at an undisclosed location on March 6.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, poses with chiefs of branch social security stations in this undated picture released by North Korea’s official news agency on November 27.
Kim celebrates with staff from the satellite control center in Pyongyang, North Korea, during the launch of a rocket carrying a satellite, in a photo released by the official North Korean news agency on December 12.
A crowd watches as statues of the nation’s founder, Kim Il Sung, and his son Kim Jong Il are unveiled during a ceremony in Pyongyang on April 13, 2012. Photos from North Korea are rare, but the country was on full display in April 2012 as it celebrated the 100th birthday of Kim Il Sung.
A North Korean soldier stands guard in front of an UNHA III rocket at the Tangachai-ri Space Center on April 8, 2012.
In April 2012, Pyongyang launched a long-range rocket, which broke apart and fell into the sea. The UNHA III rocket is pictured on its launch pad in Tang Chung Ri, North Korea.
A closer look at the UNHA III rocket on its launch pad in Tang Chung Ri, North Korea.
A military vehicle participates in a parade in Pyongyang on April 15, 2012.
North Koreans wave flags in front of portraits of Kim Il Sung, left, and his son Kim Jong Il during celebrations to mark the 100th birth anniversary of Kim Il Sung in Pyongyang on April 16, 2012.
North Korean soldiers relax at the end of an official ceremony attended by leader Kim Jong Un at a stadium in Pyongyang on April 14, 2012.
Kim Jong Un applauds as he watches a military parade in Pyongyang on April 15, 2012.
A North Korean soldier stands on a balcony in Pyongyang on April 16, 2012.
North Korean soldiers march during a military parade in Pyongyang on April 15, 2012.
Soldiers board a bus outside a theater in Pyongyang on April 16, 2012.
North Korean performers sit below a screen showing images of leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang on April 16, 2012.
North Korean soldiers salute during a military parade in Pyongyang on April 15, 2012.
Kim Jong Un visits the Rungna People’s Pleasure Ground, which is under construction in Pyongyang, in a photo released on July 3, 2012, by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency.
North Korean soldiers listen to a speech during an official ceremony attended by leader Kim Jong Un at a stadium in Pyongyang on April 14, 2012.
Members of a North Korean military band gather following an official ceremony at the Kim Il Sung stadium in Pyongyang on April 14, 2012.
North Korean military personnel watch a performance in Pyongyang on April 16, 2012.
A North Korean controller is seen along the railway line between Pyongyang and North Pyongan province on April 8, 2012.
A North Korean military honor guard stands at attention at Pyongyang’s airport during a diplomatic visit on May 2, 2001.
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Tensions in the region have eased in recent days since a fraught period last month that included near daily North Korean threats of war.
U.S. and South Korean officials feared at that time that Kim Jong Un’s regime was planning to carry out a test launch of longer-range ballistic missiles, believed to be Musudans. The South Korean government says they have a maximum range of 3,500 kilometers (2,175 miles).
Andrew Salmon, a journalist and author based in the South Korean capital, Seoul, said North Korea’s reported launch of short-range missiles Saturday should not cause the same degree of concern as the launch of a satellite or medium-range Musudan rocket.
“It’s a short-range tactical weapon. If any other country launched this kind of weapon, it’s a routine test, nobody would be too worried. It’s really simply because it’s North Korea doing this that it raises concerns,” he said.
The situation is much less tense in the region than it was last month, Salmon said.
“The North Koreans have significantly de-escalated their bellicosity and their rhetoric since the end of April,” he said. “The South Korean government, I suspect, will not be strongly condemnatory of this test because right now they are very, very keen to get the North Koreans to the negotiating table.”
The recent tensions flared after the North’s long-range rocket launch in December and underground nuclear test in February, both of which were widely condemned.
Pyongyang’s fiery rhetoric intensified in March as the U.N. Security Council voted to tighten sanctions on the regime following the nuclear test.
Annual U.S.-South Korean military drills in South Korea also fueled the North’s anger, especially when the United States carried out displays of strength that included nuclear-capable B2 stealth bombers.
North Korea is demanding recognition as a nuclear power, something the United States refuses to countenance.
Last month’s crisis resulted in the closure of the Kaesong Industrial Complex, the last major symbol of inter-Korean cooperation.
CNN’s Jethro Mullen contributed to this report.