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    North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects the defence detachment on Jangjae Islet and the Hero Defence Detachment on Mu Islet located in the southernmost part of the waters off the southwest front, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 5, 2017

    Reports: Kim Jong-un Secretly Visits Border Troops to Check Readiness

    © REUTERS/ KCNA
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    Reports surfaced Tuesday indicating that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made a secret visit to a military unit near the inter-Korean border earlier this month, prompting South Korea to shore up its defenses against a possible provocation.

    In early August, Kim reportedly visited Pyongyang’s border unit for a secret inspection. The band of troops lies about 1,000 meters from neighboring Yeoncheon, Gyeonggi Province, where South Korea’s outpost is located. 

    According to military officials, the North’s border unit is surrounded by streams and mountains, and while it isn’t clear what Kim did while visiting the unit, some believe that was checking their readiness and may have given them a mission, sources told the Korea Times.

    Kim had been out of the public eye from late July to mid-August.

    After attending a banquet celebrating the successful second test launch of a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on July 30, Kim wasn’t seen in public again until he visited the Korean People’s Army (KPA) Strategic Force Command on August 15.

    The state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reports that army generals briefed Kim on a planned and apparently readied missile attack on Guam, a US territory, during the inspection. According to KCNA, the leader decided to "watch such stupid American behavior for a bit longer" rather than giving the go ahead for the attack, taking what appears to be a step back from his belligerent stance after Washington suggested diplomatic talks.

    However, Kim said he would have to make an "important" decision if Washington’s  "extremely dangerous reckless actions" on the Korean Peninsula continue, in what appears to be a reference to joint military drills by the US, South Korea and a number of guest nations launched Monday. 

    As the US and South Korea begin their annual 10-day Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises, the allied nations are enhancing their surveillance and military readiness against potential provocation from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

    The Combined South Korean-US Forces Command have alerted more intelligence agents, and it is reported US Forces Korea and Air Force have flown additional tactical reconnaissance aircraft over the peninsula.

    Though Pyongyang walked back it’s specific threat against Guam, it continues to call the US and South Korean drills and intolerable provocation, and it insists war cannot be ruled out. 

    North Korean military officials said Tuesday that "No one can vouch that these huge forces concentrated in South Korea will not go over to an actual war action now that the military tensions have reached an extreme pitch in the Korean Peninsula," according to AP. 

    "Moreover, high-ranking bosses of the US imperialist aggressor forces flew into South Korea to hold a war confab. Such huddle is increasing the gravity of the situation."

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    Tags:
    North Korean nuclear program, North Korea missile launch, border, visit, joint military exercises, Kim Jong Un, Korean Peninsula, South Korea, Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK)
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