North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has inspected a high-profile Air Force combat contest, describing it as part of “war preparations” against the United States and South Korea, Pyongyang’s state media said Thursday.
Kim flew to the expanded Kalma Airport in Wonsan along the country’s east coast on his special plane, Chammae-1, to “guide” the Combat Aeronautics Contest, said the Korean Central News Agency. As usual, it did not specify the date. Wonsan is known as his hometown.
The contest was the second of its kind in the North’s seven-decade history, according to the KCNA.
It was held on the occasion of the 62nd anniversary of the Armistice Agreement that has effectively ended the 1950-53 Korean War. The North celebrates it as Victory Day.
Kim said the contest was intended to “bring about a radical turn in the drills to round off preparations for a war full of the will to settle with arms accounts with the U.S. imperialists, the chieftain of aggression, and the South Korean puppet group keen to escalate the confrontation with the fellow countrymen and that of social systems, seized with sycophancy toward the U.S.,” the KCNA said in its English-version report.
In an ensuing speech, Army Gen. Ri Yong-gil, chief of the General Staff of the North’s military, also said the peninsula is on the brink of another conflict like the Korean War.
Ri accused the U.S. and South Korea of continuing “distortions and reckless war plots.”
On Wednesday, the North’s foreign ministry demanded the allies stop their regular joint defense exercises first in order to resume dialogue.
It said talks are not being held due to Washington’s “hostile policy” on Pyongyang.
The U.S. is misleading public opinions through distortions, an unnamed ministry spokesman said, citing remarks by Sydney Seiler, Washington’s special envoy for the six-party talks.
On his trip to Seoul earlier this week, Seiler said his government is willing to talk with the North with flexibility shown in the nuclear deal with Iran.
“Dialogue won’t be held and the vicious cycle of worsening security situations will continue before the U.S. shows its seriousness on dialogue by halting joint military trainings,” the spokesman said.
It was confirmed that the North’s Air Force chief has been promoted to a four-star general, another sign that the young leader Kim places more emphasis on the Air Force.
A photo released by the North’s media showed Choe Yong-ho, who commands the Air and Anti-Air Force of the Korean People’s Army, being put on the rank of a four-star general.
Choe was a three-star commander when he made a public appearance for Kim’s “field guidance” for female pilots on June 22.
Choe has apparently emerged as a top military aide to Kim, having accompanied the leader on his public activities more than ten times this year alone. (Yonhap)
The Korea Herald