Pyongyang must be prepared to seize South Korean territory in the event of an “emergency,” North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has said.
In a speech marking the 76th anniversary of the founding of the North Korean Army on Friday, Kim praised the military for “firmly protecting the sovereignty and dignity of the country” from “imperialist military threats, blackmail, and the risk of war.”
Commenting on the increasingly tense relations with Seoul, the North Korean leader said his country has “summarized the history of our people’s division and confrontation and defined [South] Korean puppets as the most harmful and unchangeable enemy” of Pyongyang.
The warning comes after the North Korean leader ruled out reunification between Pyongyang and Seoul in late December, arguing that the two neighbors adhere to diametrically opposed principles. Last month, Kim also called on the national parliament to label South Korea the “number one hostile country.”
Pyongyang and Seoul never signed a peace treaty after the end of the 1950-1953 Korean War, which divided the peninsula, and tensions remain high. In recent months, North Korea has conducted numerous missile launches while criticizing its southern neighbor for holding joint military drills with the US, which has some 30,000 troops stationed on the peninsula.
Citing US officials, the New York Times reported in January that Washington is worried that North Korea could “take some form of lethal military action” against Seoul. The paper’s sources, however, doubted that Pyongyang would risk anything resembling a full-scale attack.