Sunday, 5 February, 2023
E-paper

Kim sets out new goals for North's military, KCNA reports

Kim Jong Un announced new goals for North Korea's military in a report to party leaders, state media reported Wednesday, hinting that sanctions-busting weapons tests will continue next year.

Kim is currently presiding over a major party meeting in capital Pyongyang, during which the top leader and other senior party officials outline their policy goals for 2023 in key areas including diplomacy, security and the economy.

Kim "set forth new key goals for bolstering up the self-reliant defence capability to be pushed ahead with in 2023," the official Korean Central News Agency reported Wednesday, without giving any details.

The report "analysed and assessed the new challengeable situation created in the Korean peninsula," KCNA said, in an apparent reference to the recent sharp escalation in tensions between North and South.

Kim made clear the "orientation of struggle against the enemy to be adhered to by our Party," KCNA added.

North Korea has conducted a record-breaking number of weapons tests this year, including firing intercontinental ballistic missiles, which it is banned from testing by UN sanctions.

Pyongyang has also ratcheted up tensions with Seoul, including firing artillery into maritime buffer zones and this week sending unmanned drones into South Korea's airspace.

The incursion by the five drones -- the first such incident since 2017 -- prompted Seoul to fire warning shots and deploy fighter jets and attack helicopters to shoot them down.

North Korea's end-of-year plenary meetings are typically used by the regime to unveil the country's priorities both domestically and overseas for the year ahead.

Full details of the current ongoing plenary are expected to be announced when it concludes later this week.

While Kim focused on the domestic economy at the 2021 event, analysts are widely expecting a shift in tone to highlight the military front this year, in light of the nuclear-armed North's increasing belligerence.