North Korea’s Kim Jong-un unveils goals to further bolster military power next year

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Wednesday unveiled new goals to further strengthen his military next year, in an indication of yet another year of provocative display of weapons.

On the second day of the ruling Workers' Party's plenary meeting, Mr Kim, 38, reviewed security challenges on the Korean Peninsula and the broader political landscapes, state media Korean Central News Agency reported.

He clarified principles and directions to take in external relations and fights against enemies to protect national interests and sovereignty, it added.

Mr Kim "set forth new key goals for bolstering the self-reliant defence capability" and "anti-enemy struggle" to be pushed in 2023 amid what he called a multilaterally changing situation.

"New core goals for strengthening self-defensive capabilities to be strongly pursued in 2023 have been presented in preparation for diverse fluctuations in the political situation," the state media added, without elaborating on the details.

Mr Kim's statement comes amid heightened tension with rival South Korea with Seoul accusing Pyongyang of flying drones across the border earlier this week for the first time in five years.

On Monday, Seoul fired warning shots and scrambled jets and helicopters after detecting what it called five North Korean drones that violated the South's airspace. The South also flew three drones across the border in response.

The Hermit Kingdom this year has already performed a record number of missile tests, including the intercontinental ballistic missiles, in what experts call an attempt to modernize its arsenal to leverage in future dealings with the US.

North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un at the Workers’ Party meeting (KCNA VIA KNS/AFP via Getty Image)
North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un at the Workers’ Party meeting (KCNA VIA KNS/AFP via Getty Image)

Independent observers suggest that the “new goals” could be related to the North Korean leader’s effort to expand his nuclear arsenal and acquire high-tech weapons such as multi-warhead missiles and advanced drones.

Mr Kim also pointed out “a series of serious shortcomings” observed in the field of science, education and health this year, and suggested ways to overcome them in 2023.

During the first day of the top-level meeting, Mr Kim hailed his nation’s growing power, which he claimed has increased “remarkably” in the fields of “politics, military, economy and culture”.

Mr Kim was quoted by the state media as saying that “the eventful and changeful present world, in which unpredictable difficulties [are] constantly threatening the existence and development of our state and people ... requires the WPK ... to make a more responsible, scientific and timely judgment and determination”.

The Workers’ Party plenary meeting is expected to last several days, where Mr Kim is expected to address issues such as his arms buildup, and relations with the US and the economy.