(ATTN: UPDATES throughout; CHANGES headline; ADDS photo)
By Yi Wonju
SEOUL, July 30 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un accused "hostile forces" of intensifying "frantic and persistent war drills for aggression" as he presided over the first-ever workshop of military commanders and political officers this week, state media reported Friday.
The remark came as South Korea and the United States are mulling over whether and how to conduct their annual military exercise expected for mid-August amid concern that it could negatively affect a conciliatory mood created in the wake of the North's restoration of inter-Korean communication lines this week.
The North has long bristled at such combined drills, branding them as a rehearsal for invasion.
"At present the hostile forces systematically keep bolstering up their capabilities for making a preemptive attack on the DPRK and increase armaments while intensifying all sorts of frantic and persistent war drills
for aggression," Kim told the workshop held from Saturday to Tuesday, according to the KCNA.
"He noted such situation has hardened the determination and fighting will of the KPA to eradicate the root cause of the evil cycle of escalating tensions," the KCNA said. "He called for all the military and political cadres to put the greatest efforts into bolstering up the combat efficiency of their units.
KPA refers to the Korean People's Army.
However, Kim did not mention nuclear weapons or have any direct messages for Washington or Seoul.
Kim also urged soldiers to devote their lives to protecting the North Korean people and their properties, and stressed the importance for the soldiers to take pride in being "the creators of the people's happiness, the sentinels responsible for preserving the people's trust in the Party," according to the KCNA.
Kim's remark comes as the North is faced with chronic food shortages, which appear to have worsened due to the back-to-back typhoons and flooding that wrought havoc on key farming areas last year.
Last month, Kim acknowledged that the country is facing a "tense" food shortage and issued a "special order" to improve people's living without unveiling any details.
Observers say the military appears to have failed to follow his order to supply the North Korean people with wartime food reserves.
The KCNA said that the workshop analyzed in detail major shortcomings in the work of military units in implementing the policies of the party.
BTS-inspired webtoon to be released this week
(LEAD) Daily infections over 4,000 for 2nd day; imported cases hit record high
(URGENT) 1 person recovered from Gwangju construction accident site pronounced dead: officials
Moon expresses condolences over death of pilot in F-5E crash
(LEAD) U.S. reaffirms security commitment to S. Korea following NK missile tests
(2nd LD) N. Korean cargo train arrives in Chinese city of Dandong: sources
(3rd LD) N. Korea says it has succeeded in final test-firing of hypersonic missile
(3rd LD) N. Korea announces firing of 2 train-borne guided missiles into East Sea
(2nd LD) Ruling party's presidential candidate eyes 'de facto' unification with N. Korea
Moon not considering attending Beijing Olympics: Cheong Wa Dae
Man sets himself on fire over feud with international marriage agency
(LEAD) N. Korea fires 2 apparent ballistic missiles eastward from Pyongyang airfield: S. Korean military
(4th LD) N. Korea fires 2 apparent ballistic missiles eastward from Pyongyang airfield: S. Korean military
(2nd LD) Another N. Korean cargo train arrives in Chinese border city: sources
(LEAD) Daily cases back above 4,000 amid omicron woes