|North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visits a unit of airborne troops during its nighttime drills, according to the Rodong Sinmun, the daily of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, on Monday. Yonhap News|
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visits a unit of airborne troops during its nighttime drills, according to the Rodong Sinmun, the daily of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, on Monday. (Yonhap News)
The latest visit came shortly after both Seoul and Washington announced that they will go through with their annual military exercises as planned despite the North’s proposal asking them not to.
The paratroopers showed Kim their “admirable actions of accurately landing on the designated points,” the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said early Monday.
Kim highly praised the combatants and airmen for successfully performing their duties as he underscored the need for the military to “put spurs to rounding off the combat preparedness.”
It is not, however, unusual for Kim to inspect military units.
The report did not disclose details of the time and location of the exercise, but a senior South Korean military official said it took place at Sunan International Airport, the nation’s main gateway in Pyongyang, on Saturday, mobilizing infiltration aircraft AN-2.
“It is very rare that North Korea’s airborne unit carries out their military exercises at a civilian airport,” the official said, asking for anonymity. “The drill seems to be aimed at enhancing night-time infiltration capabilities.”
North Korea is known to have about 300 AN-2s, which can carry up to 1,500 kg of cargo and 10 fully armed special commandos. It carried out an airborne exercise involving AN-2s in February of last year.
The North Korean military has been carrying out its winter season drills since early December, though no special movement has been detected in the North, the official noted.
The North’s recent overture is widely seen as its attempt to get South Korea to cancel joint military exercises with the United States.
Last week, Seoul and Washington said they will go ahead with the drills scheduled to run from late February through April.
The North claims the military exercises could be a rehearsal for a nuclear war against it. Seoul and Washington have said the routine drills are defensive in nature. (Yonhap News)