Kim Jong Un oversees missile launch in 'power demonstration' to South Korea

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw a firing drill of 600mm super-large multiple rocket launchers in a "power demonstration" to South Korea, state-run media reported Friday. Photo by KCNA/UPI
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw a firing drill of 600mm super-large multiple rocket launchers in a "power demonstration" to South Korea, state-run media reported Friday. Photo by KCNA/UPI

JEJU ISLAND, South Korea -- May 31 (UPI) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un guided a firing drill of 600mm super-large multiple rocket launchers as both a warning to South Korea and a rehearsal for a preemptive strike, state-run media reported Friday,

The exercise, held Thursday, was a "power demonstration" that showed North Korea "will not hesitate to carry out a preemptive attack by invoking the right to self-defense at any time," the official Korean Central News Agency reported.


The rockets "accurately hit an island target 365 km [227 miles] away and successfully carried out their task for power demonstration firing," KCNA said.

South Korea's military said Thursday it detected a launch of around 10 short-range ballistic missiles from the Pyongyang area.

The United States and South Korea refer to the 600mm rocket system as the KN-25 and characterize it as a short-range ballistic missile. North Korea has claimed since October 2022 that the weapon can be fitted with a tactical nuclear warhead.


The North said that the firing drill was conducted in direct response to a recent show of force by South Korea, which held an aerial exercise Monday ahead of Pyongyang's failed attempt to launch a spy satellite.

South Korea "committed a hideous act of infringing upon the sovereignty of the DPRK that can never be overlooked by staging a clumsy counteraction of dangerous armed demonstration against the exercise of legitimate sovereign right of the DPRK," the KCNA article said.

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is the official name of North Korea.

Kim "stressed that the nuclear forces of the DPRK should be more thoroughly prepared to promptly and correctly perform the important mission of deterring a war and taking the initiative in the war at any time and under sudden situation," KCNA said.

Washington has repeatedly offered to meet with North Korea without preconditions but analysts believe that Kim has no interest in returning to the negotiating table under the administration of President Joe Biden, which has emphasized a stance of deterrence over diplomacy.

"Kim Jong Un is absolutely not interested [in talks]," Sue Mi Terry, a senior fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations, said. "Kim is going to increase his leverage by advancing his missile program first."


Terry, a former U.S. intelligence official, added that she expects North Korea to continue with a series of provocations in the coming months.

"Because there's not going to be a lot of a chance for diplomacy, North Korea's goal is to perfect its weapons capability," Terry told reporters at the Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity on Wednesday. "So they will have to continue their missile tests and their weapons testing."

A spokeswoman for South Korea's Unification Ministry, which oversees inter-Korean affairs, condemned the latest launch and the North's menacing rhetoric Friday.

"We strongly condemn North Korea's habitual violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, blatantly targeting [South Korea] as its main enemy and committing all kinds of threatening language and illegal provocations, including talk of a preemptive strike," spokeswoman Kim In-ae said at a press briefing.

The firing drill comes during a tense week on the Korean Peninsula, with the North attempting to launch a satellite on Monday and floating hundreds of trash- and manure-filled balloons across the border on Tuesday and Wednesday.

An unnamed official from the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters Friday that the military expects more balloons to be launched this weekend based on wind forecasts and the North's continuing threats.


The official called the balloons "very low-level behavior" but said the military currently has no plans to shoot them down or intercept them.

North Korea said its actions were a "tit-for-tat" retaliation against activists floating leaflets across the border from the South.

Kim Yo Jong, the influential sister of Kim Jong Un, on Wednesday called the balloons "'sincere presents' to the goblins of liberal democracy who are crying for the 'guarantee for freedom of expression,'" in a statement carried by KCNA.

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