North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un said this week he is not concerned with avoiding an armed conflict with South Korea, state media reports.
The dictator made the comments while touring a munitions factory to learn about production, where he referred to the country's southern neighbor "our principal enemy," according to state media outlet Korea Central News Agency.
Kim Jong Un said his regime "would by no means unilaterally bring a great event by the overwhelming strength in the Korean peninsula, but we have no intention of avoiding a war as well," according to the state newspaper.
He continued, "If the ROK dares attempt to use armed forces against the DPRK or threaten its sovereignty and security and such opportunity comes, we will have no hesitation in annihilating the ROK by mobilizing all means and forces in our hands."
International cooperation between the North and South has broken down in recent weeks after the Kim regime's military fired a series of artillery barrages into the buffer zones between the countries, ostensibly for combat drills.
South Korean intelligence estimates approximately 200 shells fired into the area on Friday and an additional 60 on Saturday.
The South Korean Defense Ministry reportedly fired approximately 400 rounds in response to the provocation.
An agreement in 2018 between Seoul and Pyongyang established the buffer zones as a prohibited area for artillery fire or military drills.
The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff announced Monday that it will resume drills in the area in response to the North Korean artillery bombardment, saying the restrictions on the zone "no longer exist."