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South Korea says North Korean artillery launch was within minutes of Chinese plane's flight

South Korean officials are criticizing a North Korean artillery launch that they say happened minutes before a Chinese commercial plane flew in the same area.

It wasn't immediately clear what danger, if any, the launch Tuesday posed to the China Southern Airlines plane traveling from Tokyo to Shenyang, China. Seoul's Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok on Thursday called it a "serious threat" that Pyongyang failed to notify air traffic.

Kim says the plane was at an altitude of 10 kilometers (six miles) and the projectile's peak was 20 kilometers. He says the flight passed by about five minutes after the projectile splashed down.

Seoul officials say the suspected artillery launch and earlier launches of Scud missiles are protests of ongoing U.S.-South Korean military drills Pyongyang considers invasion preparation.