N. Korea leader monitors ‘actual war’ drill

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In this Dec. 21, 2012 file image made from video, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks at a banquet for rocket scientists in Pyongyang, North Korea. AP FILE PHOTO

SEOUL—North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un oversaw a live-fire artillery drill aimed at simulating an “actual war,” state media said Tuesday, a day after South Korea swore in its first female president.

“An endless barrage of shells were fired by artillery pieces on ‘enemy positions’, their roar rocking heaven and earth, and all of them were enveloped in flames,” the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

“Feasting his eyes at the ‘enemy positions’ in flames, [Kim] was satisfied,” the official agency added.

KCNA gave no precise time or location for the drill, but its announcement followed Monday’s presidential inauguration in the South, at which new leader Park Geun-Hye signalled a zero-tolerance policy to North Korea provocation.

According to KCNA, Kim ordered the live fire exercise to test the capability of artillery units “to fight an actual war.”

It marked the latest in a series of high-profile military inspections by Kim following the North’s nuclear test earlier this month.

Last week Kim oversaw an air force demonstration, a paratroop drill and a separate tactical attack exercise combined with live shell firing.

In her inauguration speech, Park demanded that Pyongyang “abandon its nuclear ambitions” immediately and warned that the North’s test was a challenge to the future survival of the Korean people.

While promising to pursue the trust-building policy with Pyongyang that she had promised in her campaign, Park stressed she would never compromise South Korea’s national security.

Cross-border tension has been high since the North’s February 12 test which sparked global fury and condemnation from the UN Security Council.

Pyongyang said the test was a response to a tightening of sanctions after the North’s successful long-range rocket launch in December, which the international community condemned as a disguised ballistic missile test.

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