In a tactic reminiscent of his father and grandfather, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un urged his troops to be vigilant during upcoming training exercises between South Korea and the United States, saying they should be ready to lead a “sacred war,” state media reported.
The warning followed an announcement by the United States and South Korea that their joint “Ulchi Freedom Guardian” training exercises would begin Monday and conclude by August 31.
Kim’s comments came during a visit on Mu Island with troops who participated in the 2010 shelling of South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island, an attack that North Korea at the time said South Korea provoked by holding war games off their shared coast.
The Yeonpyeong attack in November 2010 was the first direct artillery assault on South Korea by North Korea since 1953, when an armistice ending the fighting. Two civilians and two South Korean marines died in the attack, which South Korea’s government at the time called a “definite military provocation” by North Korea.
The sparsely populated Yeonpyeong is located just south of the Northern Limit Line, the line drawn in 1953 by the United Nations at the end of the Korean War. The United Nations drew the line three nautical miles from the North Korean coast and put five islands close to the coast under South Korean control.