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Kim Jong Un Ends Year with Nuclear Threats Against Seoul, Orders Military Buildup

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un concluded the year with renewed threats of a nuclear attack on Seoul and directives for a military buildup in anticipation of a potential war on the peninsula, as reported by state media on Sunday.

In a lengthy speech concluding five days of year-end party meetings setting policy decisions for 2024, Kim criticized the United States and ordered the maintenance of an “overwhelming war response capability” against various military threats.


Plans for the upcoming year include launching more spy satellites, developing unmanned drones and electronic warfare capabilities, and strengthening nuclear and missile forces.

Kim accused the US of posing military threats, emphasizing the possibility of war due to what North Korea perceives as enemies’ reckless moves. The meeting concluded that a war could break out on the Korean peninsula at any time.

In response, Washington deployed a nuclear-powered submarine in Busan and conducted joint drills with Seoul and Tokyo using strategic weapons, which North Korea deemed provocative.

Kim declared that reconciliation and reunification with South Korea were no longer sought, citing an “uncontrollable crisis” caused by Seoul and Washington.

Inter-Korean relations worsened this year, leading to the suspension of a 2018 military agreement. Kim emphasized the need to reorganize departments handling cross-border affairs.

Leif Easley, a professor of international relations in Seoul, suggested that North Korea’s focus on military capabilities aimed to divert attention from its economic shortcomings. The bellicose rhetoric serves domestic politics and international coercion, not just deterrence, he added.

North Korea declared itself an “irreversible” nuclear power in 2022, asserting it will never abandon its nuclear weapons program for survival. The UN Security Council has issued numerous resolutions urging North Korea to halt its nuclear and missile programs since its first nuclear test in 2006.

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