Tuesday June 06, 2023

North Korea pledges ‘expanded, intensified’ military drills

February 08, 2023

SEOUL: North Korea´s top army officials have said they will expand and intensify military drills to ensure their readiness for war, state media reported on Tuesday, ahead of a massive parade.

The pledge came at a Monday meeting overseen by leader Kim Jong Un and follows last week´s staging of joint air drills by South Korea and the United States.

The agenda was topped by “the issue of constantly expanding and intensifying the operation and combat drills of the (Korean People´s Army) ... strictly perfecting the preparedness for war”, the official Korean Central News Agency said.

The meeting of North Korea´s central military commission comes as commercial satellite imagery suggests “extensive parade preparations” are underway in Pyongyang ahead of key state holidays this month.

North Korea celebrates the founding anniversary of its armed forces on Wednesday and the “Day of the Shining Star” on February 16. The latter is the birthday of Kim Jong Il, son of North Korea´s founder Kim Il Sung and father of Kim Jong Un.

South Korea´s Joint Chiefs of Staff said Tuesday it was closely monitoring areas surrounding Pyongyang´s parade training ground, adding it had seen a “great increase in personnel and vehicles” in recent days.

Seoul and Washington have moved to bolster joint military drills following a year of sanctions-busting weapons tests by North Korea, infuriating Pyongyang, which sees such joint exercises as rehearsals for invasion.

Last week, the security allies staged joint air drills featuring strategic bombers and stealth fighters, prompting Pyongyang to warn such exercises could “ignite an all-out showdown”.