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North Korea’s leader orders heightened military preparation amid South Korea-US military drills

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visits troops at an undisclosed location on March, 6, 2024. (Photo by KCNA via AFP)

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has ordered heightened readiness for potential war, during his visit to a military training base in the country’s western region amid recent joint South Korea-US military drills.

Kim examined training facilities and oversaw actual maneuvers of military units during a visit to the base on Monday. The state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) did not reveal the location of the base in its report on Thursday.

The North Korean leader said the military must “dynamically usher in a new heyday of intensifying the war preparations in line with the requirements of the prevailing situation,” the KCNA reported.

“Our army should … steadily intensify the actual war drills aimed at rapidly improving its combat capabilities for perfect war preparedness,” Kim added.

The North Korean leader dressed in a black leather jacket, was captured on camera conversing with groups of heavily armed soldiers in camouflage, supervising shooting exercises, and examining weapons, as depicted in photos released by the KCNA.


Kim's visit coincided with the ongoing joint military drills between the United States and South Korea, known as Freedom Shield, set for March 4-14.

The drills, expected to involve 48 field exercises including missile interception drills, bombing, air assault and live-firing, began on Monday with twice the number of troops participating compared with last year.

North Korea has consistently condemned the military exercises conducted by the US and South Korea, asserting that they are practice runs for an imminent invasion. In retaliation to these drills, the country has carried out weapons tests.

On Monday, a spokesman for North Korea's Ministry of National Defense said in a press statement that the large-scale joint South Korea-US military drills are provocative and aim to increase uncertainty in the region.

It called the drills “frantic" and “reckless” and a “military threat to a sovereign state and attempt for invading it.”

The spokesperson warned that the US and South Korea “will be made to pay a dear price for their false choice.”

North Korea’s leader has repeatedly said his government is building up its defensive military arsenal in preparation for war by the West that could “break out at any time” on the peninsula.

Last month, Kim repeated that Pyongyang would not hesitate to "put an end" to South Korea if attacked.

In January, North Korea fired an artillery barrage near two South Korean border islands, prompting a live-fire drill by the South and evacuation orders for residents.

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