North Korean leader Kim Jong Un warned he would "put an end" to South Korea if attacked, state media reported Friday. He made the remarks at the 76th-anniversary ceremony for the Korean People's Army, where he was accompanied by his daughter Ju Ae (R). Photo by KCNA/EPA-EFE
SEOUL, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called South Korea Pyongyang's "primary enemy" and warned that his military would "put an end" to the South if attacked, state-run media reported on Friday.
Kim made the remarks Thursday during an address at the Ministry of National Defense to mark the 76th anniversary of the founding of the country's military, Korean Central News Agency reported.
"If our enemies dare to use force against our country, we will make a bold decision that will change history and will not hesitate to mobilize all the superpowers at our disposal to put an end to them," Kim said, referring to South Korea.
The belligerent tone comes as relations between the two Koreas are at their lowest in years. North Korea publicly rejected its long-held goal of unification with the South last month, with Kim calling for a constitutional change to define South Korea as its "primary enemy state and invariable principal enemy."
In his speech Thursday, Kim praised the decision to name South Korea as the "most harmful and primary enemy of our country" and said the North would "take over and stabilize their territory in the event of an emergency."
He added that the move to reclassify South Korea as a hostile country establishes the "legality to attack and destroy at any time."
Images released by KCNA showed the North Korean leader attending the anniversary ceremony for the Korean People's Army accompanied by his young daughter Ju Ae, whom South Korean intelligence officials have described as his most likely successor.
The event came one day after the North's rubber-stamp parliament abolished its laws and regulations on inter-Korean economic cooperation, further straining ties with the South.
In addition to the harsh rhetoric and legal moves, Pyongyang has kept up a steady stream of weapons tests since the beginning of the year, including four cruise missile launches and the test-firing of a new intermediate-range solid-fuel ballistic missile.
While North Korea has turned away from Washington and Seoul, it has drawn closer to Russia and is believed to be supplying artillery and missiles to Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.
Kim dismissed any notion of a return to diplomacy with South Korea in his remarks Thursday.
"We have proactively shaken off the unrealistic constraints of having to strive for formal dialogue or cooperation with [South] Korean puppets who ... are plotting the collapse of our republic and dreaming of absorption and unification," Kim said.
"Peace is not something to be begged for or exchanged for through negotiation," he added.