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Kim Jong-un instructs North Korea’s navy to prepare for war

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in this file photo dated Sept. 8, 2023, standing before what the regime claimed was a new nuclear submarine. [YONHAP]
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in this file photo dated Sept. 8, 2023, standing before what the regime claimed was a new nuclear submarine. [YONHAP]

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un called on the country’s navy to be ready for “war preparations at present” at a shipyard on Friday as U.S. and South Korean forces released footage from a joint drill that simulated the taking out of the North Korean leader.

During a visit to the Nampo navy shipyard in South Pyongan Province, located about 40 miles southwest of Pyongyang, Kim called for the full implementation of the party’s policies on shipbuilding and naval enforcement, according to reports from the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Friday.

“The strengthening of the naval force presents itself as the most important issue in reliably defending the maritime sovereignty of the country and stepping up the war preparations at present,” Kim said, per KCNA.

Citing the Noth’s five-year defense development plan announced at the Eighth Congress of the ruling Workers’ Party in January 2021, during which the regime vowed to develop nuclear-powered submarines and nuclear weapons, several experts said that Kim’s latest statement could be read along the lines of the North’s aspirations to develop a nuclear sub.

“Kim Jong-un means to instruct them to build the nuclear submarines as planned, even if it means operating the Sinpo and Nampo shipyards simultaneously,” said Moon Keun-sik, a professor at Hanyang University’s school of public policy.

“The goal is to develop nuclear submarines with pre-emptive strike capability over South Korea’s Kill Chain system, and onto which submarine-launched ballistic missiles and submarine-launched cruise missiles can be mounted,” he said.

Kim at the shipyard ordered the shipbuilding projects to be carried out fully in accordance with the five-year plan, according to KCNA.

Kim was also seen at the Sinpo South Shipyard on Jan. 28 overseeing the testing of a set of cruise missiles which he claimed to have fired from submarines.

The North fired additional sets of cruise missiles on Tuesday and on Friday.

On Friday, in the wake of the escalated provocations from the North, U.S. and South Korean forces released footage of their joint training last month, including of drills that targeted the North Korean leader.

The training mobilized the U.S. 1st Special Forces Group “Green Berets” and South Korean Army’s Special Warfare Command and its North Star battalion at the Rodriguez training site in Pocheon, Gyeonggi, from Jan. 22 to Friday.

“This training was aimed at mastering the procedures for conducting joint operations,” said the Army in its statement. “It is to strengthen individual combat skills such as targeted killing.”

It was the first joint training of the special forces released this year.

The Army’s video included a training scene in which the soldiers fired at human targets in an urban combat setting.

Special forces members from both countries were reportedly mixed into one team, and the nonstop operation lasted two days and one night.

The last special forces training footage was released in December following the North’s launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile in violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions.

BY LEE YU-JUNG, ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]