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South Korea Reports An Unusual Increase In Military Exercise In North Korea


South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo said North Korea was showing "an unusual increase" in military operations, as it conducted a test of the readiness of the artillery and air force. 
"North Korea, has increased military tensions through the unusual promotion of combat readiness operations, primarily for artillery forces, and air flight operations."

The minister said North Korean officials had not responded to the proposal to open the discussion.

This activity indicates that Pyongyang may want to conduct another missile test, or it may be related to Kim Jong Un's long disappearance in public. Last week's reports speculated the 36-year-old dictator had died or was living in a plant. North Korea does not comment on these reports. 

North Korea's military operations are most likely related to missile tests and artillery drills.

The latest exercise "took place last week, during which time the North launched a number of anti-ship (surface-to-sea) missiles off the east coast," Yonhap reported. 

"On the same day, North Korea also rehearsed Sukhoi variant and MiG-type fighters above the eastern coastal city of Wonsan, and fired multiple surface-to-air missiles into the East China Sea."

North Korean state media on Monday published a letter from Kim praising workers at the Wonsan coastal tourist site. Meanwhile, the Washington-based 38 North project website published satellite images showing the dictator's dedicated train in Wonsan.

“The presence of this train does not confirm the current whereabouts of the North Korean leader or say anything about his health condition, but it contributes to consolidating reports that Kim is in a high-end area on the east coast of the country.”
wrote the 38 North project analyst.

A top South Korean official said Kim was in a home in Wonsan but insisted he was still alive and not in critical condition.

“Our view is very strong. Kim Jong-un is alive and well. Mr. Kim has stayed in the Wonsan area since April 13. So far, no suspicious moves have been discovered.”
Moon Chung-in, Korea's top foreign policy adviser Moon Jae-in, told CNN on Monday. CNN had previously reported that US intelligence officials thought Kim was in danger of having an operation, but the news was rejected by South Korean officials a few days ago.

Speculation about Kim's health arose after Kim's absence at the celebration of his grandfather's 108th birthday - the late leader of Kim Nhat Thanh.


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