Kim warns South Korea of potential ‘annihilation’
North Korea is prepared for war and will have “no hesitation in annihilating” the South, leader Kim Jong-un has declared, while stressing that Pyongyang will not initiate a conflict. He described Seoul as being “most hostile” toward North Korea, and accused it of attempting to overthrow the leadership in Pyongyang.
Kim’s remarks came shortly after South Korea evacuated civilians from Yeonpyeong Island, accusing Pyongyang of firing 200 artillery shells into a maritime buffer zone off its west coast on Friday. The South Korean military later launched an artillery volley of its own in the same area. Pyongyang claimed it had not actually fired a single round, but had detonated “blasting powder simulating the sound of 130mm coastal artillery” to see how its neighbor would react.
According to the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Kim inspected several munitions factories on Monday and Tuesday. Speaking during the visits, the North Korean leader said that while the DPRK was not planning to trigger a military conflict on the Korean Peninsula, “we have no intention of avoiding a war as well.”
KCNA quoted the official as warning that if South Korea “dares attempt to use armed forces against the DPRK or threaten its sovereignty and security… we will have no hesitation in annihilating the ROK [Republic of Korea] by mobilizing all means and forces in our hands.” Kim branded South Korea the “principal enemy,” insisting that this meant the DPRK must step up its defensive military capabilities, particularly nuclear weapons.
Commenting on the recent shelling incident, Kim Yo-jong, the influential sister of the North Korean leader, said on Sunday that Pyongyang was ready to respond with a “baptism by fire” to any “foolish miscalculation” by the South.
Kim Jong-un argued last month that Korean reunification was currently out of the question, claiming the South is a “colonial subordinate state” of the US, according to KCNA.
Several days prior, Kim called on the North Korean military and industry to “further accelerate the war preparations,” citing “unprecedented” provocations by Washington and its allies in the region.
Shortly before New Year, the US and South Korea held live-fire joint drills involving mechanized units near the border with the North. The maneuvers were preceded by other military exercises on the peninsula in recent months, some of which saw a US nuclear-powered submarine and nuclear-capable bombers deployed to South Korea.