SEOUL (AFP) – Over 800,000 young North Koreans volunteered to join the army to fight “United States (US) imperialists”, state media said yesterday, days after Pyongyang test-fired its most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
After a record-breaking year of weapons tests and growing nuclear threats from Pyongyang, Seoul and Washington have ramped up security cooperation, and this week kicked off their largest joint military drills in five years.
North Korea views such exercises as rehearsals for invasion and repeatedly warned it would take “overwhelming” action in response.
The official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) described the ongoing drills as an American attempt “to provoke a nuclear war” and said in response, hundreds of thousands of people enlisted.
The young volunteers are determined to “mercilessly wipe out the war maniacs” so they joined the army to “defend the country”, KCNA said. “Over 800,000 youth league officials and students across the country volunteered to join and rejoin the Korean People’s Army” on Friday alone, it added.
Images released by Pyongyang’s official Rodong Sinmun showed young North Koreans waiting in long lines to sign their names at what looks like a construction site.
The latest report comes after Pyongyang test-fired its largest and most powerful missile, a Hwasong-17, on Thursday – its second ICBM test this year.
State media described the launch as a response to the ongoing, “frantic” US-South Korea joint military drills.
Yesterday, KCNA said the ongoing drills were “inching close to the unpardonable red-line”.