About the Author
View more articles by JH Ahn
JH Ahn was an NK News contributor based in Seoul. He previously worked as an interpreter for United States Forces Korea.
North Korea on Thursday conducted exercises with over a hundred pieces of heavy artillery, ruling party organ the Rodong Sinmun reported on Friday.
Rodong did not mention where the training took place, but evidence in the article suggests it might have happened on the Kalma Peninsula, Wonsan, the same area where the North conducted artillery training in March.
“The ground shattered as the earthquake hit it, the sky roared with the sound of thunder, and the cloud of dust soon covered the artillery emplacement,” Rodong reported.
“At the target island, the fire has erupted with the thunderous noise and the gust of yellow dust whirled up to the sky.”
The article left some clues as to the drill’s location, mentioning the “target island,” “few kilometers long beach”, and some of the pictures share the strong resemblance to the Kalma peninsula.
“I am almost 100% sure it is Kalma, you can see the Kalma Peninsula on the map next to Kim Jong Un,” NK News Intelligence Director John Grisafi said.
“The target island in the pictures appears to be Hwangto-do (황토도) which is quite typical. That island is routinely used as the target of live fire and assaults.”
North Korea conducted artillery training on Kalma in March, announcing that it planned to “obliterate South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s residence and liberate the southern part of the peninsula.”
During the Thursday visit Kim Jong Un ordered his artillery units to “crush the South” once fighting broking out between the two, according to Rodong.
“Our first strike has to completely crush their intention to confront us again,” Kim continued. “If there are those who are still left to struggle against us, then we have to wipe all of them… our brave artillery units have to leave piles of bodies at every place they aim at.”
Despit Kim’s sabre-rattling rhetoric, two experts found the training to be nothing extraordinary.
“This is likely routine, scheduled artillery training,” Grisafi said. “North Korea conducts training exercises several times a year, especially for artillery, which is still a critical element of their military deterrent, even with the development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
“This location is an often used training site.”
“Those 152mm howitzers have a rather shorter range and limited performance compared to the South’s,” Kim Min-seok, a senior researcher at the Korea Defense and Security Forum, told NK News.
“Max range of those howitzers, made of North Korea’s Tokchon frame, are up to 17.4 kilometers and can only load a couple of rounds at best. I don’t see anything too special.”
Edited by: Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: Rodong Sinmun