North Korean troops performed artillery drills near the disputed sea boundary with South Korea at the order of leader Kim Jong Un, state media reported Monday, drawing an immediate rebuke from the South amid stalled nuclear talks.
The North’s Korean Central News Agency said that the firing happened when Kim inspected a military unit on Changrin Islet off the west coast.
It was Kim’s first known trip to a front-line military unit since he entered nuclear talks with the United States last year. The nuclear negotiations are largely at standstill now as North Korea steps up pressure on Washington to lift international sanctions and abandon hostile policies on the North.
KCNA said Kim ordered a coastal artillery company to fire before indicating the target for it and that company troops “fully showed their gun firing skills” and “delighted the supreme leader.”
The islet is just north of the inter-Korean maritime boundary, the scene of several bloody naval skirmishes between the rivals in past years. In 2010, North Korea launched an artillery strike on a South Korean island just south of the boundary, killing four people. Earlier that year, North Korea is also accused of torpedoing a South Korean warship operating near the boundary, killing 46 sailors.
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