North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, has replaced his military’s top general and called for increased weapons production, expansion of military drills, and preparations for the possibility of war.
The country’s state media KCNA reports that Kim made the comments at a meeting of the Central Military Commission, which discussed plans for countermeasures to deter North Korea’s enemies, a report by KCNA on Thursday said.
However, the report did not mention the names of the perceived enemies.
South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency said on Thursday that North Korea appears “focused on flexing its military muscle”.
With a cigarette in hand, Kim was shown talking to a room full of uniformed top generals, and pointing at maps, images in state media showed, while he discussed “major military actions” against South Korea at a meeting of the Central Military Commission.
The Korean Central News Agency said the agenda of the meeting, which comes just days after Kim inspected key arms factories, was “the issue of making full war preparations” and ensuring “perfect military readiness for a war”.
According to a report by FRANCE24 which credited AFP, the meeting comes as Seoul and Washington prepare for major joint drills later this month, which the North views as rehearsals for invasion and has repeatedly warned could trigger “overwhelming” action in response.
At the meeting, Kim dismissed chief of the general staff Pak Su Il, replacing him with Vice Marshal Ri Yong Gil, KCNA said without giving further details.
Pak, who was promoted to the post late last year, may have been dismissed “because he did not demonstrate sufficient competence in the field of military operations,” according to Cheong Seong-chang, a researcher at the Sejong Institute.
“Kim Jong Un has shown a tendency to quickly replace officials when they are judged to be lacking in the ability to control and perform their duties,” he said.
Ri may have been the “most suitable person” to replace Pak, as he has previously held the position for a long time, Cheong added.
Kim called for “all the munitions industrial establishments to push ahead with the mass-production of various weapons and equipment”, the report said.
“He also called for actively conducting actual war drills to efficiently operate (the) newly deployed latest weapons and equipment,” it added.
Kim reached an “important conclusion on further stepping up the war preparations of the KPA in an offensive way,” KCNA reported, referring to the North’s military.
The meeting also discussed preparations for a massive parade to mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of North Korea on September 9.