The North Korean government on Friday praised China’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, while condemning recent South Korean military drills. 

“Kim Jong Un in his message extended his warm greetings to Xi Jinping and congratulated him, highly appreciating that he is seizing a chance of victory in the war against the unprecedented epidemic,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said. The report said the relationship between China and North Korea had been “firmly consolidated.” 

China has offered support to North Korea in combating the coronavirus. Pyongyang has asserted that there are zero cases of the virus on North Korean territory, although South Korean intelligence has said the virus is hurting the North Korean economy. 

In a separate KCNA broadcast, a North Korean military representative condemned recent military drills conducted by Seoul. 

“The recent drill served as an opportunity which awakened us once again to the obvious fact that the enemies remain enemies all the time,” the statement read.

Pyongyang was pointing to a military exercise conducted by the South Korean airforce on Wednesday.

"Everything is now going back to the starting point before the north-south summit meeting in 2018," the statement continued. 

In April 2018, South Korean President Moon Jae-in met with Kim to discuss denuclearization, along with other topics. Following the summit, the two nations agreed to officially cooperate on ending the Korean War in a document called the Panmunjom Declaration.

Military tensions have been high between Pyongyang and Seoul in the last week.

On Sunday, South Korea and North Korea exchanged fire at the demilitarized zone between the two countries. Seoul claims that North Korean troops fired several bullets at a South Korean guard post in the DMZ, provoking a response of warning shots from the South Korean military

Kim had disappeared from state media for several weeks, sparking rumors about his health and whether he is still alive. On May 2, Kim reportedly appeared in public while attending the inauguration of a new fertilizer plant near North Korea’s capital.

North Korea under the Kim dynasty is considered to have one of the worst track records on human rights in the world. North Koreans convicted of crimes can be publicly executed or sent to toil for long hours in labor camps.