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North Korea leader Kim Jong-un. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

North Korea leader Kim Jong-un oversaw "strike drill" missile tests and said troops should be on "high alert posture," according to state media, following reports Pyongyang launched "multiple unidentified short-range projectiles" Saturday morning (local time).

Details: Projectiles touched down in the water between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. According to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the U.S. and South Korea are working closely "to maintain a full readiness posture," per the Washington Post.

What they're saying: "The purpose of the drill was to estimate and inspect the operating ability and the accuracy of striking duty performance of large-caliber long-range multiple rocket launchers and tactical guided weapons by defense units. ... and the combat performance of arms and equipment," the state-run Korean Central News Agency said.

The big picture: President Trump remained hopeful Saturday of reaching an agreement with Kim, despite February's U.S.-North Korean summit ending without a deal in Hanoi and stalled denuclearization negotiations between the president and Kim.

Context: The action comes after Kim attended a test of what was called a “guided tactical weapon” in April. Experts described that test as a message to the U.S. that the North planned to "continue to amass weapons while the diplomatic standoff continued," per the New York Times.

  • Trump has declined to lift sanctions on North Korea until Kim gives up his country's nuclear arsenal.
  • North Korea indicated it will not back down from mounting international pressure, even if its citizens have "water and air only" to live on, according to state media.
  • Kim met with Russia's Vladimir Putin last month.

Go deeper: North Korea's tactical guided message to Trump

Go deeper

GOP implosion: Trump threats, payback

Spotted last week on a work van in Evansville, Ind. Photo: Sam Owens/The Evansville Courier & Press via Reuters

The GOP is getting torn apart by a spreading revolt against party leaders for failing to stand up for former President Trump and punish his critics.

Why it matters: Republican leaders suffered a nightmarish two months in Washington. Outside the nation’s capital, it's even worse.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

The limits of Biden's plan to cancel student debt

Data: New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax; Chart: Axios Visuals

There’s a growing consensus among Americans who want President Biden to cancel student debt — but addressing the ballooning debt burden is much more complicated than it seems.

Why it matters: Student debt is stopping millions of Americans from buying homes, buying cars and starting families. And the crisis is rapidly getting worse.

Why made-for-TV moments matter during the pandemic

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Erin Schaff-Pool, Biden Inaugural Committee via Getty Images

In a world where most Americans are isolated and forced to laugh, cry and mourn without friends or family by their side, viral moments can offer critical opportunities to unite the country or divide it.

Driving the news: President Biden's inauguration was produced to create several made-for-social viral moments, a tactic similar to what the Democratic National Committee and the Biden campaign pulled off during the Democratic National Convention.

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