North Korea announces 800,000 volunteers to “fight the American imperialists”

These young people are determined to “ruthlessly annihilate the war-obsessed” and have joined the army to “defend the country”, adds KCNA.

The official Rodong Sinmun daily published images showing long queues of young people waiting outside what looks like a construction site.

According to the official agency, hundreds of thousands of people have signed up, in response to American military exercises that KCNA describes as an attempt to “provoke a nuclear war”.

Seoul and Washington are currently holding their largest joint military exercises in five years.

These drills “blame themselves for the red line in an unforgivable way,” KCNA continued.

North Korea confirmed on Friday that it had launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) the day before, the second this year. The firing was a response to “frenzied” US-South Korean military exercises, KCNA wrote.

The missile launched Thursday towards the Sea of ​​Japan was a Hwasong-17, according to KCNA, a “monster missile” according to military analysts, which theoretically has sufficient range to reach the mainland of the United States. Called “Freedom Shield”, the American-South Korean exercises began on Monday and are to last ten days. They focus on “the changing security environment” due to the redoubled aggressiveness of North Korea, the allies said.

Pyongyang declared itself an “irreversible” nuclear power last year, and Mr Kim recently called for an “exponential” increase in the production of weapons, including tactical nuclear weapons.

At the beginning of March, Mr. Kim also ordered the North Korean army to intensify exercises to prepare for a “real war”.

Pyongyang uses US exercises to present its nuclear weapons program as “crucial and necessary”, said Yang Moo-jin, president of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, interviewed by AFP.

This “spreads the idea that the US-South Korean exercises have the ultimate goal of destroying the current North Korean regime and even occupying its capital Pyongyang”, he added.