On Friday, Kim Jong-un oversaw a live-fire artillery exercise, which simulated an attack on a South Korean airfield. He also called on his troops to be prepared for any potential military escalation from their adversaries' ongoing "frantic war preparation moves," most likely referring to the recent joint military drills conducted by the US and South Korea.
According to reports from North Korean state media on Friday, this event took place a day after the South Korean military detected at least one short-range ballistic missile fired from a site near Nampo, a coastal city in the west. While South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff are evaluating the situation, it is unclear whether additional missiles have been launched simultaneously.
The United States and South Korea have been conducting joint military exercises, in response to the increasing threat posed by North Korea's nuclear arsenal. These have included the deployment of long-range bombers such as the B-1B and B-52, as well as joint aerial drills with South Korean warplanes. However, North Korea has long viewed these exercises as rehearsals for an invasion. According to the Korean Central News Agency, Kim emphasised the importance of responding to any military action taken by North Korea's adversaries. The situation remains tense as the US and South Korea prepare for their largest combined field training exercise in years later this month.
The Unification Ministry of South Korea has called on North Korea to halt its nuclear missile programs and military provocations, citing the need to avoid further escalation of tensions on the peninsula. Vice spokesperson Lee Hyo-jung emphasised the importance of prioritising the well-being of the North Korean people and taking steps towards achieving peace in the region.