North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has revealed that his country is ready for war if provoked by outsiders, in his annual New Year’s speech on Friday.
In his address, Kim says that North Korea needs to increase its “political and military might in every way”, according to the Korean Central News Agency.
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“The year 2015 was a year of gigantic struggle recorded with significant events and eye-opening successes and a year of victory and glory that strikingly demonstrated the dignity and might of socialist Korea,” Kim said in the 30-minute televised speech.
“We will continue to work patiently to achieve peace on the Korean Peninsula and regional stability,” he added. “But if invasive outsiders and provocateurs touch us even slightly, we will not be forgiving in the least and sternly answer with a merciless, holy war of justice.”
Such remarks aren’t unprecedented. In an October speech marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the ruling communist Workers’ Party, Kim said he was prepared to wage war against the United States if necessary.
Kim also said Friday that he was open to talks on improving relations with South Korea. The neighbors reached an agreement to defuse tensions in August after a landmine at the border injured two of the South’s soldiers, but high-level talks last month ended without a deal.
“We are willing to have talks in an open-minded manner with anyone who wants peace and unification,” Kim said. “South Korea should honor the spirit of the inter-Korean agreement in August. Seoul should refrain from doing acts that hurt the conciliatory mood.”
The speech came on the heels of the death of Kim Yang Gon, North Korea’s top official in charge of ties with South Korea, who was killed in a traffic accident this week at the age of 73.