KEY POINTS

  • North Korea continues it development of missiles amid preparations for its 75th party founding anniversary Oct. 10
  • A South Korean defense minister said they are closely watching moves from the DPRK
  • Kim Jong-un pledged North Korea's increased cooperation with China

North Korea is actively pursuing its missile development program as Leader Kim Jong-un pledged an alliance with Chinese President Xi Jinping. 

During a confirmation hearing at the National Assembly on Wednesday, South Korean Defense Minister nominee General Suh Wook said North Korea is continuing its threatening military activities, including the development of missiles, The Korea Herald reports. 

He made the remarks amid speculations that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) could showcase a new weapon in honor of its 75th founding anniversary on Oct. 10. 

"North Korea is focusing on preparations for the 75th party founding anniversary event after suspending military action plans against the South in June. But as military activities continue, including missile development, we are closely watching related moves," Suh said.

In June, Pyongyang blew up the inter-Korean liaison office building in the North Korean border city of Kaesong. It also renewed its threats to take military actions against the South. 

On Wednesday, Kim sent a letter to Xi Jinping where he promised to develop his country’s relationship with China. According to China’s state-operated media CGTN, the DPRK leader thanked the Chinese government for its congratulatory message on the country’s 75th founding anniversary.

The letter comes days after the commander of U.S. Armed Forces in the South said North Korean authorities issued shoot-to-kill orders to prevent COVID-19 from entering the country from China. The DPRK has yet to confirm a single coronavirus case. 

Pyongyang closed its border with China in January to keep the contamination from spreading. In July, state media said the North Korean government raised its state of emergency to the highest level possible, NDTV reported.  

The DPRK also introduced a buffer zone, which is about two kilometers wide along the Chinese border. U.S. Forces Korea commander Robert Abrams said the closure at the border increased the demand for smuggled goods, which prompted authorities to take action.

"They've got North Korean SOF (Special Operations Forces) out there,” Abrams said.  “Strike forces, they've got shoot-to-kill orders in place." 

Members of a 12,000-strong volunteer workforce attend a rally to pledge support for a typhoon recovery campaign ordered by North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un at the Kumsusan palace in Pyongyang Members of a 12,000-strong volunteer workforce attend a rally to pledge support for a typhoon recovery campaign ordered by North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un at the Kumsusan palace in Pyongyang Photo: AFP / KIM Won Jin