The Korea Herald

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N.Korea prioritizes military buildup ahead of army anniversary

By Ji Da-gyum

Published : Feb. 1, 2023 - 16:13

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A meeting of youth vanguards takes place at the Youth Park Open-Air Theatre in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Jan. 10, 2023, to vow to A meeting of youth vanguards takes place at the Youth Park Open-Air Theatre in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Jan. 10, 2023, to vow to "thoroughly implement the decisions" made at the 6th plenary meeting of the 8th Central Committee of the North`s ruling Workers` Party, in this photo released by the socialist country`s Korean Central News Agency. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)
North Korean state media has stepped up the rhetoric to justify military buildup despite lingering economic woes ahead of the army founding anniversary, saying that defending the country from “enemies” is its priority.

“What comes first is to reinforce our own strength and national defense capabilities in order not to become a slave of imperialists,” the Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, said Wednesday in a Korean-language article. “Only in that way can we protect the present and future of the country and people.”

North Korea is set to mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of its Korean People’s Army on Feb. 8 with a possible large-scale military parade.

The newspaper underscored that North Korea must not rely on external economic assistance and must not repeat other countries’ failure of “neglecting to strengthen their own military strength while only thinking about one aspect of economic development.”

“Those -- who do not have the strength to defend themselves -- become the weak and the target of imperialist aggressions in today’s world, where the strength determines victory or defeat,” read the article entitled “target of imperialism’s aggression and plunder are the weak who do not have their own and depend on others.”

“Therefore, we should simultaneously build up the strong military strength that enables us to protect the sovereignty of the country with our own power and independently build an economy despite hardships and suffering so as to achieve genuine development and prosperity of the country.”

In another article, the Rodong Sinmun urged North Korean people to stand against the “enemies who seek to deprive them of happiness,” emphasizing that the “most important duty of citizens is to defend the country.”

The newspaper claimed that the “war provocations and schemes by imperialists to destroy our sovereignty and right to development and survival have reached an extreme for the past 10 years.”

Last year, the US deployed its strategic assets on the Korean Peninsula and conducted large-scale military exercises with South Korea.

“But not a single cloud of fire floated in our sky as our troops resolutely defended the front-line of our homeland,” the Rodong Sinmun said, underscoring that the troops were grown as competent warriors under the leadership of Kim Jong-un.

“The independent dignity of the nation, peace and the victory of socialism rest on our strong army. That is why our people regard (their contribution) to national defense as the foremost patriotism and the sacred duty of citizens.”