SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea’s air force has conducted more training than normal this winter despite the death of leader Kim Jong Il, a report said Jan. 24.
The North’s military drills for winter began in late November and are showing no “abnormal” activities following Kim’s death on Dec. 17, the South’s Yonhap news agency said.
“We, however, witness a slight increase in the number of air force flights taking part in training,” an unnamed government official was quoted as saying.
The South will go ahead with its planned joint exercise with U.S. troops in March as Pyongyang has not eased its tough stance towards Seoul, Yonhap said.
Kim Jong Un, the late leader’s youngest son, has visited army units as head of the armed forces in an attempt to burnish his military credentials.
Kim, believed to be in his late 20s, was proclaimed supreme leader and appointed commander of the 1.2-million-strong military following the death of his father.
The new regime has vowed retaliation against Seoul for alleged disrespect during the mourning period for its late leader.
Cross-border tensions have been high since the South accused the North of torpedoing a warship with the loss of 46 lives in March 2010.
The North denied involvement but eight months later shelled an island near the tense Yellow Sea border and killed four South Koreans.
Kim chaired a Lunar New Year banquet on Jan. 23 for senior officials, the Korean Central News Agency said Tuesday.
At the meeting, leading ruling party official Choe Thae Bok urged North Koreans to glorify 2012 as “a year of shining victory when an era of prosperity is unfolding,” the agency said.
The regime has pledged to turn the impoverished, nuclear-armed country into a “powerful and prosperous nation” this year, which marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of founding president Kim Il Sung, father of Kim Jong Il.