N. Korea appears to ramp up threats to overcome ‘unfavorable’ situation: ministry

North Korea appears to be intensifying provocations against South Korea and the United States in efforts to break through "unfavorable" circumstances, Seoul's unification ministry said Thursday.

The assessment came a day after North Korea test-fired a Hwasong-18 solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile under the guidance of leader Kim Jong-un who vowed to take "stronger" military action to deter the allies.

Earlier this week, Kim Yo-jong, the powerful sister of the North Korean leader, issued acerbic statements claiming that U.S. military spy aircraft "intruded" into the area over the North's exclusive economic zone, claiming a "shocking" incident could occur should the actions continue.

In a written report submitted to a parliamentary committee session, the ministry noted how the North Korean leader had refrained from making any public appearances since the botched launch of a space rocket carrying its first military spy satellite in late May.

The ministry also highlighted how a key party meeting in June took place later than expected and concluded without Kim's speech.

Following the meeting, the ministry had assessed that it is "very rare" for the North's leader to skip his speech at a party plenary meeting, and that the country appears to lack confidence in carrying out a five-year economic plan.

The latest assessment also touched on how North Korea appears to be preparing for a large-scale military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War on July 27, celebrated as Victory Day in North Korea, as a means to overcome the current situation.

On Pyongyang's food situation, the ministry said North Korea's crop output seems to have improved from the previous year while it continues to stay vigilant against possible damage from the annual monsoon season.

The North seems to be carefully gauging when to reopen its border, the ministry said, citing signs of growing trade with China, its biggest economic benefactor and ally.

North Korea's trade with China recovered to 85 percent of its pre-pandemic level in the first five months of the year, it said.

Source: Yonhap News Agency