World Bulletin/News Desk
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has visited a frontline military detachment, state media reported, and reminded troops of their duty to fight a "sacred war" against any provocation by South Korea.
His visit, and his recent resumption of "field guidance" to military units, precede annual war games by allies South Korea and the United States. The military drills are scheduled to begin on Monday and continue until Aug. 31.
State news agency KCNA said Kim, who came to power in December 2011 after the death of his father, visited the same artillery unit that launched a deadly attack on South Korea's Yeonpyeong island near the western sea border two years ago.
Kim inspected the unit on Mu island, which KCNA said was "stationed in the biggest hotspot in the southernmost part of the southwest front". The report was released on Friday and was monitored in the South on Saturday.
"He ordered the servicepersons ... not to miss their golden chance to deal at once deadly counter-blows at the enemy if even a single shell is dropped on the waters or in the area where the sovereignty of the DPRK is exercised," KCNA said of Kim's guidance to his Democratic People's Republic of Korea troops.
Kim also said the Korean People's Army should then "lead the battle to a sacred war for national reunification, not confining it to a local war on the southwest region", KCNA reported.
He also observed that Yeonpyeong island was "clearly visible" from the post on Mu island, according to KCNA.
Pyongyang, impoverished and isolated, has periodically used the term "sacred war" to counter what it sees as a threat from the South and its key ally the United States.
It has also branded this month's military drills "an all-out war rehearsal" for an invasion of the North.
Seoul and Washington say the drill, which will mobilise more than 85,000 servicemen, including some 30,000 U.S. troops, is only for defensive purposes.
In February, the North raised its level of military alert after South Korean and U.S. military staged live-fire artillery drills in the same area near the disputed sea border off the west coast.
The North's shelling of Yeonpyeong island in November 2010 killed four people, including two civilians, and was the first attack on civilians since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. The two sides are technically still at war, having signed only a truce rather than a peace treaty.
It was not clear from the KCNA report when Kim visited the military unit on Mu island. KCNA reported earlier this month he had also visited an army unit identified only as "Unit 552".
Kim, in his late twenties, has focused many of his trips since inheriting dynastic power on encouraging workers and promoting nationwide economic projects.
That prompted many East Asia watchers to speculate he might have given up on the military-first policies of his father, Kim Jong-il.
Police say muezzin has been killed and three worshippers wounded in the shooting, a rare attack on minority Shiite Muslims
Provoking anger and amusement, Taiwanese flag appeared alongside in ISIL propaganda video released listed Taiwan as one of Washington's 'close counterterrorism partners' in Asia-Pacific
China calls for peace and stability after Japan, US agree to continue drills in disputed sea
Minister says violence not the answer as police hunt continues for ISIL militants in mountains of Indonesia's north
Haroon Bhatti, founding member of outlawed Lashkar-e-Jhangvi group, was arrested in Dubai last month and brought back to Pakistan
Muslims in Myanmar have been banned from printing their own calendars, with senior Buddhist monks imploring for stricter sentencing on the publisher and his associates.
PM Abe says Japan to pledge $10.6 billion for climate policies in developing countries
'Tragic but avoidable accident (was) caused primarily by human error,' General John Campbell says
Japanese, US officials decide to hold joint exercises in contested sea amid China's maritime expansion
'Seven people - six pilgrims and the lady pilot - died in the crash,' a police official says
Residents rush for open space as tremors shake cities across region
Former Muslim rebel group orders officials to combat illegal drugs, while communist insurgents launch similar campaign in nearby provinces
More than 70 Pakistani journalists and other media workers have lost their lives since 2001 while pursuing their duties
Obama says he invited leaders from ASEAN to the US, insisting that good ties with Asian nations were 'absolutely critical' to US security
The two opposition leaders, Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mujahid and Salauddin Quader Chowdhury were hanged shortly after President Abdul Hamid rejected their mercy petitions
The opposition leader is now implicated in a second case which follows warrant issued for arrest of Sam Rainsy for defaming foreign minister