North Korean leader Kim inspects 'Seoul' tank unit

 SEOUL: North Korea's Kim Jong Un inspected a tank unit which once invaded Seoul during the Korean War, state media reported on Monday (Mar 25), with Pyongyang's leader calling for ever greater preparations for combat.

Inter-Korean relations are at one of their lowest points in years, with Kim's military recently conducting a string of banned weapons tests, including launching a ballistic missile and staging a ground test of a "new type" of hypersonic missile engine.

Kim visited the Seoul Ryu Kyong Su Guards 105th Tank Division on Sunday, the official Korean Central News Agency said, with images in state media showing him apparently reviewing South Korean attack plans.

"The division ... was the first to charge into Seoul and fly the flag of the DPRK on the puppet capitol building," KCNA said, referring to the North by its official name.

The tank unit "performed distinguished feats in many battles during the past Fatherland Liberation War", KCNA said, referring to the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended with an armistice not a peace treaty, meaning the two countries remain technically at war.

Kim oversaw the unit's drill and expressed "great satisfaction" that the tank crews were well prepared and showed "strong will to annihilate the enemy", KCNA reported.

He also called for more "ideological education" to help soldiers continue their good work "rounding off war preparations and beefing up combat capability".

Food shortages are reportedly widespread in the nuclear-armed North, and Kim visited the unit's cafeteria and oversaw the soldiers' meal.

Supervisors should "always pay deep attention to further improving the servicepersons' diet" Kim said, to "ensure the regular supply of meat, vegetables and various other subsidiary foodstuffs in good time".

So far this year, the nuclear-armed North has declared South Korea its "principal enemy", jettisoned agencies dedicated to reunification and outreach, and threatened war over "even 0.001mm" of territorial infringement.

Seoul is one of Washington's key regional allies, and the United States stations about 27,000 American soldiers in the South to help protect it against Pyongyang.

North Korea this month warned that Seoul and Washington would pay a "dear price" over their recent joint military exercises, and later announced that Kim had guided an artillery unit it says was capable of striking the South Korean capital.

Source: AFP/nh