A photo released on Monday by KCNA shows Kim Jong Un (C), inspecting the defense detachment on Changrin Islet, North Korea. Photo by KCNA/EPA-EFE
Nov. 25 (UPI) -- North Korea may have violated a 2018 inter-Korea military agreement with its alleged practice firing of artillery near a disputed maritime border with the South.
Pyongyang's state-controlled news agency KCNA reported Monday Kim Jong Un provided field guidance during his visit with a military unit on Changrin Islet on the western coast.
The news agency also claimed artillery was fired, likely a violation of the Sept. 19 agreement between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, which stated both sides would cease all military hostilities at the border, in favor of improving ties.
North Korea has changed its strategy in 2019. Pyongyang has rebuffed the South's offer of talks, focusing instead on the United States while warning President Donald Trump to abide by a "year-end deadline" to cease "hostilities."
Kim's visit to Changrin with his joint chiefs of staff chairman Pak Jong Chon and a group of officials of the Korean Workers' Party central committee comes at the tail end of regular provocations. In 2019, North Korea engaged in 12 rounds of provocations from May to October, when Pyongyang tested a new weapons system and a submarine-launched ballistic missile.
On Monday KCNA stated artillery was fired, but did not include images or published videos of the provocations, according to South Korean press reports.
North Korea did publish images of Kim inspecting 76mm coastal artillery, South Korean newspaper Hankyoreh reported.
Koo Kab-woo, a South Korean analyst with the graduate school at the University of North Korean Studies, told the paper North Korea will "decide on the future of North-South relations" depending on "improvements" in U.S.-North Korea relations.
"They're asking President Moon's administration to pick a side," Koo said.
North Korea could also be pushing South Korean patience to its outer limits.
Kim Dong-yub, an analyst at Kyungnam University, said North Korea is signaling its willingness to cut the "last cord" with the South, while asking Seoul for radical changes that would favor Pyongyang, according to Hankyoreh.