Kim Jong Un Drives Tank in Live-Fire ‘Preparations For War’ Drill

by State Brief

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has staged some interesting military theatrics ahead of next week’s expected visit of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to South Korea for the third Summit for Democracy.

The recent renewal of ongoing major US live-fire exercises on the peninsula has also triggered sharp denunciations from Pyongyang. On Thursday Kim oversaw his own live-fire exercises, while riding in the north’s newest battle tank.

The North Korean leader wore a black leather jacket and mounted a new tank, supposedly driving it himself, according to state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

State media ominously described the exercise as part of “preparations for war”:

Kim expressed “great satisfaction” that the tank – first unveiled during a 2020 military parade – demonstrated its striking power in its inaugural performance display and told his troops to bolster their “fighting spirits” and complete “preparations for war”, KCNA said.

Kim hailed the newly deployed North Korean-made battle tank as “the world’s most powerful” – and state media published a photograph that featured his head sticking out of the tank while in operation.

Notably the exercises were said to have involved military units stationed close to the border wand within striking distance of the “enemy’s capital” – according to KCNA.

Kim has meanwhile denounced the latest joint Washington-Seoul war exercises, which recently even included strategic assets, as a “rehearsal” for invasion of the north.

The past month had already seen Kim reportedly oversee two prior drills, but this new live-fire “training march” appears the most impressive given the number of tanks and maneuvers, and Kim’s apparent direct participation.

The New York Times recently wrote that the Kim Jong-un government has plans for escalation, saying that it will soon launch some kind of lethal military action against the south, but will still seek to avoid a full-scale war. 

US officials indicated the recent spate of more aggressive statements from Kim should be taken seriously. “While the officials added that they did not see an imminent risk of a full-scale war on the Korean Peninsula, Mr. Kim could carry out strikes in a way that he thinks would avoid rapid escalation,” the report predicted.

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