SEOUL, South Korea – North Korean leader Kim Jong-un brought his daughter to meet soldiers on the 75th anniversary of the country’s military as he praised the “irresistible power” of his nuclear-armed military. , state media reported on Wednesday.
The visit comes amid signs North Korea is gearing up for a major military parade in the capital Pyongyang, where it could show off the latest hardware for a growing nuclear weapons program that could threaten its neighbors and the United States. Increases anxiety.
In her fourth public appearance, Kim’s daughter Kim Joo-ah, believed to be 9 or 10 years old, stood close to her father as he shook hands with senior officials and sat next to him at a table. . Analysts say Kim’s decision to bring his daughter to public events involving his military is a reminder to the world that he has no intention of voluntarily giving up his nuclear weapons, which he apparently wants to keep. see as the strongest guarantee of survival and extension of their family’s dynastic rule. .
State media’s high-profile description of Kim Joo-ah, described as “respectable” and “beloved,” has also fueled debate over whether she is being chosen as her father’s successor. He attended a flight test of an intercontinental ballistic missile in November and attended meetings with military scientists and inspections of ballistic missiles with his father.
North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency reported on Wednesday that Kim visited the residences of general officers of the Korean People’s Army with his daughter. He later gave a pep talk to the troops at a banquet, praising them for maintaining “the strongest army in the world” despite external difficulties.
The visit came a day after Kim chaired a meeting with his top military officers and called for an extension of military exercises to speed up war preparations, as he faces weapons demonstrations amid rising tensions with North Korea. Looking to extend an already outrageous run. Neighbors and Washington.
State media images showed military officials clapping at the banquet, which was held at the Yanggakdo Hotel in Pyongyang. Kim and her daughter were dressed alike in black suits and white dress shirts and held hands as they walked the red carpet with Kim’s wife Ri Sol Jo.
During his speech, Kim said it was his “greatest honor” and a pleasure to be the supreme commander of a military that is “meeting the call of time and history as the strongest military in the world.” Is.”
State media reports of Kim’s troop visit did not mention any comments he made about Washington or Seoul. But Pyongyang’s state-run Rodong Sunmoon newspaper said in an editorial on Wednesday that the North’s military was ready to launch a “colossal strike of unimaginable force to eliminate the root cause of the provocations” in the face of enemy threats. .
The newspaper said that North Korea’s weapons tests and war exercises last year were successful demonstrations of “tremendous military power” in line with the regime’s growing nuclear doctrine and “force-by-force, all-out confrontation” policy against enemies. support
North Korea has not confirmed plans for a military parade, which is expected to take place on Wednesday. Pyongyang residents marked the anniversaries by visiting the city’s Manso Hill to lay flowers and lay flowers at statues of their late leaders, Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, the ruler’s grandfather and father respectively, as a military salute lined up. I was standing.
Commercial satellite images show weeks of clear preparations involving large numbers of soldiers and civilians for an event generally intended to praise Kim Jong-un’s rule and the North’s status as a nuclear power. is to increase their relentless pressure to stabilize the
North Korea also faces economic isolation and food shortages, indicating the costs of Kim’s nuclear ambitions are rising.
North Korea has had a record year in weapons tests, and dozens of missiles it launched in 2022 included potentially nuclear-capable systems aimed at targets in South Korea and the US mainland. were designed.
The rapid testing activity was punctuated by fiery statements threatening pre-emptive nuclear strikes against its neighbors and the United States where it might perceive its leadership as threatened.
Hostilities could escalate in the coming months as Kim doubles down on nuclear pressure entering 2023.
During a major political conference in December, Kim called for a “rapid increase” in the country’s nuclear warheads, mass production of battlefield tactical nukes targeting “enemy” South Korea and more powerful intercontinental ballistic missiles. Emphasized development that could reach the continental United States. .
In addition to the development tests, North Korea may dial down its military demonstrations in response to the U.S. expanding joint military exercises with South Korea, which allies say are aimed at the North’s growing threat. have to contend with.
North Korea’s foreign ministry warned last week that the country is ready to counter US military action with “the most nuclear force” as it plans to expand its joint exercises with South Korea and acquire more advanced military assets. Like condemning US plans to deploy bombers and aircraft carriers. area
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