North Korea has fired two short-range missiles into its eastern waters, a South Korean official said, the latest in a series of launches staged in an apparent show of force ahead of a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to the South.

The Defence Ministry official, who spoke on condition of anonymity citing department rules, said the missiles were fired from Wonsan on Sunday and were presumed to be short-range ballistic missiles.

The official said North Korea fired the missiles without designating no-sail zones, which the South Korean military viewed as provocative.

South Korean media quoted officials as saying the projectiles appeared to be Scud missiles.

North Korea regularly test-fires missiles and artillery, both to refine its weapons and to express its anger over various developments in Seoul and Washington.

In recent days North Korea criticised alleged South Korean artillery firing drills near a disputed maritime boundary in the Yellow Sea that has been the scene of several bloody skirmishes between the rival nations in recent years.

Sunday's missile launches came days before the leader of North Korea's only major ally, Chinese President Xi Jinping, is set to meet South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

Seoul and Beijing have long pressed North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions.

Source: AP