Kim Jong Un directs cruise missile test as South Korea-US drills begin

Kim Jong Un directs cruise missile test as South Korea-US drills begin
# 21 August 2023 10:41 (UTC +04:00)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw a test of strategic cruise missiles, state media KCNA said on Monday, as South Korea and the United States kicked off annual military drills that Pyongyang sees as a rehearsal for war, APA reports citing Reuters.

Kim visited a navy fleet stationed on the east coast to oversee the test aboard a warship, KCNA said, without specifying the date of his trip.

The launch was aimed at verifying the "combat function of the ship and the feature of its missile system," while improving the sailors' capability to carry out an "attack mission in actual war", KCNA said, noting that the ship's missile hit its target.

Kim touted the ship for maintaining "high mobility and mighty striking power and constant preparedness for combat to cope with sudden situations," KCNA said.

South Korea's defence ministry said that it had detected signs of the launch, but that the claims in KCNA were "exaggerated" and "different from the facts," without elaborating.

The latest missile test came as South Korea and the United States began the Ulchi Freedom Shield summer exercises on Monday, designed to enhance their joint responses to North Korea's nuclear and missile threats.

Pyongyang has denounced the allies' military drills as a rehearsal for nuclear war.

South Korea's military has said this year's exercises will be held on the "largest scale ever", mobilising tens of thousands of troops from both sides, as well as some member states of the U.N. Command.

President Yoon Suk Yeol said the drills would be conducted under several contingency scenarios, including cyber, terror and drone attacks, and a disinformation campaign from the North.