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  4. Dressed in leather jacket, North Korea's Kim Jong Un 'drives' new tank during mock battle | WATCH

Dressed in leather jacket, North Korea's Kim Jong Un 'drives' new tank during mock battle | WATCH

Kim drove the new tank during a mock drill to inspect the combat capabilities of tank crews and make them familiar with combat action in different missions. The mock battle comes as joint annual drills involving South Korea and the US were due to wrap up on Thursday.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Pyongyang (North Korea) Published on: March 14, 2024 11:41 IST
North Korea, Kim Jong Un, battle tank
Image Source : REUTERS North Korean leader Kim Jong Un driving a tank

Pyongyang: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un guided a military demonstration by 'driving' a new battle tank in the latest show of force as its rivals South Korea and the United States wrapped up joint drills, state media KCNA reported on Thursday. The North Korean, clad in a leather jacket, expressed "great satisfaction" that the new ank successfully demonstrated its striking power in its first performance display.

According to KCNA, Kim drove the new tank during a "training match" designed to inspect the combat capabilities of tank crews and make them familiar with combat action on different tactical missions. "Swiftly weaving their way through various worst combat circumstances, heavy tanks hit targets at once with powerful strikes and broke through strong defence lines with high manoeuvrability," it added.

The 105th Tank Division, which was declared the winner of the mock battle, was the unit which occupied the South Korean capital Seoul during the Korean War. Kim was seen beside military troops during the demonstration, joined by senior officials including Defence Minister Kang Sun Nam at the event.

Meanwhile, other photographs showed Kim sporting a leather jacket and surrounded by troops, and also tanks with the North Korean flag blasting ammunition on a field. In one photograph, the leader could be seen with his head peeking out of a tank. 

North Korea calls for war preparations

The mock battle comes as joint annual drills involving South Korea and the US were due to wrap up on Thursday. The drills, known as the Freedom Shield exercises, were the first to take place since Pyongyang scrapped a 2018 inter-Korean military pact aimed at de-escalating tensions in November. South Korea's army said the combined forces had conducted a joint live fire exercise at a training base in the city of Pocheon in the past week.

The live fire drill featured tanks, armoured cars as well as FA-50 fighter jets, the army said in a statement. North Korea has long condemned such military drills as rehearsals for war, while Seoul has portrayed the exercises as purely defensive. Kim's appearance at the demonstration comes after he guided an artillery firing drill by the Korean People's Army, the country's military force, last week.

Kim last week called for greater war-fighting capabilities against the United States and South Korea as the defence ministry vowed to respond to ongoing military drills between its two major rivals. During a visit to a Western operational training base on Wednesday, Kim said the military must “steadily intensify the actual war drills aimed at rapidly improving its combat capabilities for perfect war preparedness,” the official Korean Central News Agency said. 

North Korea steps up nuclear drills

The North Korean leader also inspected the field training of troops at the major military operations base and said the military must "dynamically usher in a new heyday of intensifying the war preparations in line with the requirements of the prevailing situation", according to KCNA. His latest demand came two days after North Korea's Defense Ministry threatened to conduct unspecified ”responsible military activities” because South Korean-US military drills were allegedly getting more undisguised in their attempt to invade the North.

In 2024, North Korea performed six rounds of missile tests. The US and South Korean forces, along with Japan, responded by expanding their training exercises. Animosities on the Korean Peninsula remain high in the wake of North Korea's barrage of missile tests since 2022. Experts say North Korea likely believes a bigger weapons arsenal would increase its leverage in future diplomacy with the United States. 

(with inputs from Reuters)

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