N.K. leader says he has ‘no intention of avoiding war’ with S. Korea

January 10, 2024

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un called South Korea the country’s “principal enemy” and said he has “no intention of avoiding war,” state media said Wednesday.

Kim also threatened to annihilate the South if it attempts to use force against the North, as he inspected major munitions factories Monday and Tuesday, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

“Predicating that the ROK clan is our principal enemy, he said what the DPRK should prioritize in the relations with the hostile state” is “to bolster up the military capabilities for self-defense and the nuclear war deterrent first of all,” the KCNA said, using the acronyms for the official names of the South and the North.

Kim said he will not start a war unilaterally but has “no intention of avoiding a war as well.”

Should the South attempt to “use armed forces against the DPRK or threaten its sovereignty and security and such opportunity comes, we will have no hesitation in annihilating the ROK by mobilizing all means and forces in our hands,” Kim was quoted as saying.

Kim also expressed satisfaction over the factories’ deployment of new types of weapons and equipment and ordered them to more strictly boost the country’s war preparedness, the KCNA reported.

South Korea dismissed Kim’s threat to annihilate the South as “mere wordplay.”

“(Kim’s statement) presupposes South Korea using force against the North despite the fact that it has never initiated any,” a foreign ministry official said.

“The government will firmly respond to any provocations by North Korea … Any attempts to create tensions on the Korean Peninsula will ultimately cause harm to the North Korean regime itself,” the official said.

Kim’s remarks came after he characterized inter-Korean relations as those of “two nations hostile to each other,” saying there is no point in seeking reconciliation and unification with South Korea during a key year-end party meeting.

Pyongyang has since been ratcheting up tension on the Korean Peninsula, firing hundreds of artillery shells from its west coast into the maritime buffer zone near the Northern Limit Line, the de facto maritime border in the Yellow Sea, between Friday and Sunday.

On Monday, the South’s military said it will resume artillery firing and drills near the sea and land border, noting Pyongyang’s recent shelling nullified the zones where live-fire and large-scale drills are banned.