Date: September 15, 2017
Author: Mark Hayes

Korean missile scare for Aussies

There are delays and there are delays, but this takes the very dangerous cake.

A handful of Australian golfers were among those temporarily evacuated from the Japan Golf Tour's ANA Open this morning when a North Korean ballistic missile flew overhead.

Warning sirens rang out around the northern island of Hokkaido, including at the Sapporto Golf Club where players, caddies and all involved were ushered away.

Play was suspended for 40 minutes before it was determined nobody was at immediate risk.

But when Victorian Matt Griffin made an extraordinary tweet, the reaction to events around the tinderbox Korean Peninsula understandably spread with a sense of extreme urgency.

"Well this is a first," Griffin tweeted. "We currently have a suspension of play in Sapporo, Japan, due to North Korea launching ballistic missiles."

The 120-man field also includes Canberra's Brendan Jones, New South Welshman Aaron Townsend, Queensland's Brad Kennedy and South Australian Adam Bland.

It was soon determined that the missile flew east over Hokkaideo, but landed far out into the Pacific Ocean.

Griffin was soon contacted by Melbourne radio station SEN.

“We woke this morning to an alert text message that said North Korea had launched a ballistic missile and then there was one a few minutes later that said that it’s landed in the Pacific Ocean, so that was a fair relief,” Griffin said.

“Fortunately it flew well over the top, I’ve got no idea myself (what a ballistic missile sounds like), I’m sure it was a fair way up if it’s going as far as it’s got to go, it’s got to go a fair way into the atmosphere, so fortunately it’s not too close to us at this stage.

“Over the last few months I guess tensions just gradually increased and you keep thinking or you hope that nothing will ever happen because it’s so stupid if it does and you would think that North Korea would be obliterated if it does.

“But the more these things happen, the more tensions grow and you’ve got Donald Trump over the other side, so if something does start up then we’re in the worst place, there is definitely a bit more talk and a bit more tension that something may happen.”

North Korea fired the unidentified missile shortly before 7am local time.

The launch, from near Pyongyang, came after the United Nations Security Council imposed an eighth set of sanctions on the country over its banned missile and nuclear programs.

That was in response to its sixth nuclear test — by far its largest yet — earlier this month, which Pyongyang said was a hydrogen bomb small enough to fit on to a missile.

Local reports said Japan warned its residents to take shelter and wait for further instruction using its national "J Alert" system.

ANA Open officials said all at the club were evacuated when the siren sounded.

"After that, we confirmed the safety under the information that the missile passed from the Hokkaido region to the Pacific Ocean," they wrote on the tournament website.

"There were no major confusions … (so) all the stakeholders resumed the game at 7.40am after consultation."