North Korean leader Kim Jong-un declared during a ceremony marking the 69th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice that he is ready to fight the U.S. and “eliminate” South Korea.
July 27, 1953 marks the date on which an agreement signed by allies and leaders of the North and South sides of the peninsula led to a cease-fire, bringing a bloody three-year war to an inconclusive stalemate.
North Korea celebrates the day as a “Victory in the Fatherland,” and the official state Korean Central News Agency reported on Thursday the details of the authoritarian leader’s speech.
“U.S. imperialists are pushing the South Korean authorities into a suicidal confrontation,” said Kim on Wednesday.
He assured citizens that the country’s armed forces were “thoroughly prepared” for any crisis and that their “nuclear war deterrent” was “ready to mobilize its absolute power” at any given time.
“The South Korean regime and its military thugs are devising tactics to confront us militarily … Such a dangerous attempt will be immediately punished by our powerful force, and the Yoon Suk-yeol regime and his army will be eliminated.”
The speech marked Kim’s first public appearance in nearly three weeks and included some of his strongest rhetoric against South Korea in recent times.
Newly elected South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, who took office in May, had pledged to take a tougher stance against Pyongyang after former President Moon Jae-in was heavily criticized by many for being too soft towards North Korea,and “so desperate” to please the supreme leader.
Despite dealing with the worst of its coronavirus outbreak earlier this year, North Korea has also increased its military drills, firing over 13 reported launches of short-range missiles in the first half of this year alone.