North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has mentioned the possibility of a war breaking out on the Korean peninsula in 2015, it was revealed Tuesday. According to a source, Kim told military commanders earlier this year that an "armed confrontation could take place on the Korean peninsula in 2015" and ordered them to stock up on strategic supplies and remain combat ready.
The comments were made at about the same time that Kim spoke about improving relations with South Korea during his New Year's address.
At a loyalty rally in Pyongyang on Feb. 25, Kim also spoke about an "all-out war with the enemy in the name of revolution and final victory." Last year, Kim told key officials his aim of "reunification through force within three years."
The source said, "Since he came to power in late 2011, Kim Jong-un has often said that his aim is reunification 'through force' and that he would personally drive a tank and advance into Seoul."
Intelligence officials here were given the information and are monitoring possible provocations.
"Even amid its peace gestures, North Korea continues to harbor ambitions of reunification through force," a government official said. "We're doing everything to prepare against additional provocations including a missile launch and fourth nuclear test."
The year 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of North Korea's Workers Party and the division of the Korean peninsula.
◆ Committed to Revolution
Revising its founding principles last year, the Workers Party places the top priority on reunification based on the "juche" doctrine of self-reliance and "nationwide victory." Those words appear to refer to reunification through force.
The South Korean government is on the alert for intensifying provocations from North Korea in recent months. Over the last two months alone, the North fired 88 short- and mid-range missiles and on Tuesday shot two medium-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea.
The [North] Korean Central News Agency in August 2012 reported that Kim issued an order to troops to carry out an offensive to achieve “the great task of reunification."
"Marking his third year in power, Kim Jong-un is seeking to rally the military behind him in order to deal with inter-Korean and international relations," said Nam Sung-wook at Korea University. "We may even see further provocations."
North Korea is annoyed by increased discussion in South Korea about reunification. The North Korean propaganda website Uriminzokkiri on March 2 accused the South of harboring ambitions to "absorb" North Korea.
The North Korean military is under orders to familiarize itself with South Korean terrain. The Chosun Ilbo obtained a copy of a handbook that advises soldiers to get to know the landscape of the South. It details mountains, rivers, lakes, roads, railways and coastlines in South Korea and how they can affect combat conditions.
The handbook also explains how to change South Korean coordinates into figures and measurements used by North Korea as well as instructions on how to use GPS receivers.
A source said, "A mountain in South Pyongan Province contains a compound modeled on Cheong Wa Dae and surrounding terrain, where special forces troops train during summer and winter months."