About the Author
JH Ahn was an NK News contributor based in Seoul. He previously worked as an interpreter for United States Forces Korea.
North Korea claimed to hold its largest ever long-range artillery exercise to simulate an attack on South Korea, state-run media the Rodong Sinmun reported on Friday.
Pyongyang said their military will obliterate South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s residence and liberate the southern part of the peninsula.
“If those mongrels … challenge against us, all of our artillery power will raze Seoul to the ground with nothing left but ash plumes,” the Rodong Sinmun article reads.
The location of where the exercise took place was not announced, however satellite imagery analyzed by NK News indicates the exercise was held the on the coast near Wonsan International Airport, called Kalma Airport in North Korea.
The paper also claimed “more than one hundred” long range artillery pieces participated in the training, though their exact numbers or types weren’t mentioned.
“What are primarily shown here are 170mm self-propelled guns, informally known (outside North Korea) as ‘Koksan guns‘. They have a range of about 40 – 60 kilometers. I can also identify 122mm Multiple Rocket Launchers (MRL) and the 152mm self-propelled howitzer as well,” NK News director of intelligence John Grisafi said.
“By publicizing this drill, showing such a large amount of long-range artillery, Pyongyang may be trying to bolster the credibility of the claimed capability to turn Seoul into a ‘sea of fire,'” Grisafi added.
However, a South Korean researcher said North Korean artillery units alone are not sufficient to neutralize South Korean forces.
“One shell fired from the artillery would inflict considerable damage to South Korea. However the systems shown on state media are outdated, have a slow rate of fire and very low accuracy,” said Kim Min-seok, a senior researcher at the Korea Defense and Security Forum.
North Korea blamed the South’s recent air force training for their increased provocations. The drills were intended to simulate dropping bombs on North Korean targets.
“The purpose of the biggest exercise was to once again display our might of the Paektusan army to bring the most miserable doom to Park Geun-hye and her followers by turning Seoul into a sea of fire, as they publicly carried out the precision air-strike training aimed at our leader’s office,” it reads.
The drills are the latest in a string of military focused appearances for Kim Jong Un. Since the North’s fourth nuclear test in January this year, North Korean media has released images showing improvements to its nuclear, ballistic and conventional weapons research programs.
Featured image: Rodong Sinmun