Kim Jong Un, the dictator of North Korea, has ordered his military to increase their readiness and to maintain a high level of alert and war footing. Military experts expect his plan to increase military drills and missile launches will increase regional tension.
According to the Associated Press, North Korea’s state-controlled media reported that Kim and key military advisers discussed “constantly expanding and intensifying the operation and combat drills” and “more strictly perfecting the preparedness for war.”
Kim recently condemned the United States for military drills in the South Pacific (which were in response to North Korean missile launches). Kim also blasted Japan’s recent announcement regarding increasing its military budget — reportedly due to increased threats from North Korea and China.
In December, a North Korean foreign ministry official told state media:
“Japan’s foolish attempt to satiate its black-hearted greed – the building up of its military invasion capability with the pretext of a legitimate exercise of self-defense rights – cannot be justified and tolerated.”
Kim, who had not been seen in public for weeks, reportedly presented the new order during a meeting of his Central Military Commission on Monday. His recent absence, including missing an important Politburo meeting on Sunday, sparked renewed speculation about his health.
At the upcoming North Korean national parade celebration, military leaders may attempt to showcase new nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities, which Kim has threatened to use against Japan and Western interests.
Kim’s long absence from the public eye has led many to question whether or not he will attend the important annual event.
Tension in the region continues to rise as North Korean missile launches, occurring sometimes into South Korean and Japanese airspace, continue without repercussions. North Korea’s siding with China in its expansion designs on Taiwan, Russia as it moves into Ukraine, and Iran as it enriches uranium has contributed to a breakdown in relations with Western-aligned nations.
Military experts assess Kim as becoming increasingly aggressive in recent years. His January power play to remove Pak Jong Chon, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission and No. 2 military official, supports his apparent goal of putting the nation on more of a war footing.
In a nation where more than 60% live in poverty while billions are spent on the military and most workers earn $2-3 a month, the breaking point seems near. Ridged restrictions on news not controlled by the state keep most in the dark, but history has shown that dictatorships seldom last long — particularly when they put their citizenry at risk.
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