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North Korea Leader Watches Military Exercises Aimed at South

FILE - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves at parade participants at the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un guided a special operations drill targeting the South, the North’s media reported Sunday, as rival South Korea remained on alert for any attempt by the North to take advantage of political turmoil in the South.

The North’s KCNA state news agency report did not say when North Korean forces conducted the combat exercise, nor did it mention the South Korean parliament’s vote Friday to impeach its president, Park Geun-hye.

Pictures in a Sunday report on the exercise in the North’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper showed what appeared to be a mockup of South Korea’s presidential Blue House as a target. Park will remain in the Blue House, though her powers have been suspended and assumed by the South’s prime minister while the Constitutional Court weighs parliament’s impeachment vote.

South Korean Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn has urged a high state of military alert in case of any provocation by North Korea, including possible cyber attacks.

“We are ready to retaliate if North Korea makes any provocations and we condemn its malicious threat,” a South Korean military official told Reuters.

Tension on the divided Korean peninsula has been high this year after two North Korean nuclear tests and an unprecedented number of ballistic missile tests.

The North’s tests have brought tighter U.N. Security Council sanctions but no indication North Korea and its young leader are willing to compromise on its nuclear and missile programs.
The Rodong Sinmun pictures included one of Kim observing the exercise through binoculars.