North Korea’s Kim orders intensified ‘real war’ exercises

SEOUL: Kim Jong Un ordered the North Korean military to step up drills for a “real war,” state media reported on Friday as the leader oversaw a fire drill with his daughter in tow.

Photos showed Kim and his daughter, both in matching black jackets, accompanied by uniformed officers as they watched an artillery unit fire a volley of rockets Thursday.

South Korea’s military said yesterday it had detected the launch of a ballistic missile and is studying the possibility of multiple launches from the same location.

Photos released by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Friday showed at least six rockets fired simultaneously by the Hwasong unit, which is said to be trained for “strike missions”.

The unit “fired a powerful salvo at target waters in the West Sea of ​​Korea,” KCNA said.

While inspecting the drills, Kim urged soldiers to prepare for “two strategic missions, namely, first, to deter war, and second, to take the initiative in war,” according to KCNA.

Such units should “steadily intensify various simulated exercises for a real war in a variety of ways in various situations,” he added.

The exercise came as South Korea and the United States prepared to launch their largest joint exercises in five years on Monday.

Relations between the two Koreas are at one of the worst junctures in decades as the nuclear-armed North conducts increasingly provocative banned weapons tests, while the South steps up security cooperation with Washington in response.

– attack air bases –

The exercise was another high-profile appearance from Kim’s daughter, who South Korean intelligence believes is his second child, named Ju Ae.

She is considered Kim’s de facto heir by some experts. North Korean media have only identified her as his daughter and have not released any other details, including her name.

Believed to be around 11 years old, she was seen sitting next to Kim as he inspected the drill.

“It looks like Ju Ae’s appearance at events related to the North’s nuclear or missile developments has been settled,” Yang Moo-jin, president of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, told AFP.

Pyongyang has long claimed that its nuclear weapons and missile programs are for self-defense, while resenting military exercises between the US and South Korea, describing them as rehearsals for an invasion.

KCNA said Thursday’s exercise was conducted “under the simulated conditions of the main elements of the enemy operations airport.”

North Korea’s air force is the weakest link in its military and the exercise underscores the strategy to make up for it, experts said.

“North Korea’s latest drills, like many of its earlier ones, are designed to prevent South Korean (fighter jets) from taking off,” An Chan-il, a defector-turned-researcher and director of the World Institute for North Korea Studies, told AFP. –AFP North Korea’s Kim orders intensified ‘real war’ exercises

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