North Korean leader Kim Jong Un threatened to "eliminate” South Korea and said he was ready for any battle with the U.S. in a speech to mark the 69th anniversary of the deal that ended fighting in the Korean War.

Kim, making his first appearance in public in nearly three weeks, delivered one of his strongest rhetorical attacks against South Korea since conservative South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol took office in May and pledged to take a tough line toward Pyongyang. The North Korean leader said that "U.S. imperialists are pushing the South Korean authorities into a suicidal confrontation” with his nation, the state’s official Korean Central News Agency reported Thursday.

"The South Korean regime and its military thugs are devising tactics to confront us militarily,” Kim said. "Such a dangerous attempt will be immediately punished by our powerful force, and the Yoon Suk-yeol regime and his army will be eliminated.”