On Saturday, North Korea's state newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, reported that approximately 800,000 citizens volunteered to join or reenlist the nation's military to fight against the United States. According to the newspaper, the surge in volunteers included students and workers who expressed their desire to enlist or reenlist on Friday alone.
Youth Demonstrate Patriotism and Resolve
The Rodong Sinmun described the overwhelming enthusiasm of young people to join the military as a demonstration of their unshakable determination to protect their socialist country and achieve national reunification. According to the newspaper, this show of ardent patriotism clearly indicates the younger generation's commitment to defending their nation against perceived threats.
North Korea Launches Hwasong-17 ICBM amid US-South Korea Drills
North Korea's claim of increased military volunteers followed the launch of its Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Thursday. This action was taken in response to ongoing joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea. The ICBM was fired into the sea between the Korean Peninsula and Japan just hours before South Korea's president attended a summit in Tokyo discussing ways to counter the nuclear-armed North.
Condemnation and Tensions Rise with Joint Military Drills
The launch of the North's ballistic missile, banned under United Nations Security Council resolutions, drew condemnation from Seoul, Washington, and Tokyo governments. In response to North Korea's growing threats, South Korean and American forces began 11 days of joint drills known as "Freedom Shield 23" on Monday. These large-scale exercises have yet to be seen since 2017. North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, accused the United States and South Korea of escalating tensions with the military drills.