S. Korea, U.N. chief voice concern over Pyongyang's missile launches

South Korea on Sunday condemned North Korea's short-range missile launches the previous day as "provocative" and urged Pyongyang to "act responsibly," South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.

"We find it deplorable that the North does not stop provocative actions such as the launch of missiles yesterday," unification ministry spokesman Kim Hyung Seok said in a statement quoted by Yonhap.

Seoul called on North Korea to "take responsible actions" for the sake of the international community.

The statement came a day after North Korea fired three short-range guided missiles into the Sea of Japan.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon also voiced concern on Sunday, calling on Pyongyang "to refrain from further launches and return to stalled nuclear talks with world powers."

Ban said in an interview with Russia's RIA Novosti news agency, quoted by Reuters, that he regarded the move as a "provocative action."

South Korea's Defense Ministry said Saturday it had detected two launches in the morning, followed by another in the afternoon. A ministry official said the launches could be part of a North Korean military exercise or testing of a newly developed land-to-ship missile.