SEOUL – With tensions surging on the Korean Peninsula, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un talked of “all-out war” as he toured a frontline unit that shelled the South in 2010, state media said Friday.
Visiting two islands close to the disputed maritime border with South Korea on Thursday, Kim said the North’s military is “fully ready to fight a Korean-style all-out war,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported.
The tour coincided with an outpouring of vitriol from Pyongyang over U.N. sanctions imposed for its nuclear test last month, with North Korea threatening pre-emptive nuclear strikes on the U.S. and its allies, and vowing to rip up peace pacts with South Korea.
Speaking to troops stationed on the islands, Kim said the slightest provocation would result in his immediate order for a “great advance” along the entire frontline with the South.
On Mu Island, he inspected artillery units that shelled the nearby South Korean island of Yeonpyeong in November 2010, killing four people and triggering an exchange of fire that sparked fears of a full-blown conflict. State TV showed Kim inspecting the craters left by South Korean artillery shells in what he described as the “most gratifying” battle since the end of the Korean War in 1953.
The television footage showed him with binoculars looking across at Yeonpyeong Island and apparently discussing target selection with the artillery officers.
“He reconfirmed in detail reinforced firepower strike means and targets of the enemy deployed on five islets,” including Yeonpyeong, and “defined the order of precision strikes” on those targets, KCNA said.
Kim was accompanied on his tour by top members of the North Korean leadership, including political commissar Choe Ryong Hae and Defense Minister Kim Kyok Sik.
The television showed troops with their families and young children cheering and hugging Kim wherever he went. At the end of the trip, the soldiers ran down to the beach and waded chest-deep into the water, clutching at Kim’s motor launch as it moved away.