Kim Jong-un kicks off Korean war games with threat to Seoul

The North Korean leader Kim Jong-un threatened to launch a powerful retaliatory strike against South Korea if provoked, state media said yesterday, a day before the start of annual South Korean-US military exercises that Pyongyang calls an invasion rehearsal.

South Korean and US officials have said the 12-day, largely computer-simulated war games are defensive in nature. The reported threat came a day after a senior US envoy said ties between the rival Koreas must improve before the US and North Korea can achieve real progress in their relationship.

Mr Kim, who is the supreme commander of North Korea's 1.2 million-strong armed forces, made the comment during a visit to frontline units, including one that shelled a South Korean island in 2010, according to the Korean Central News Agency.

"He ordered them to make a powerful retaliatory strike, should the enemy intrude even 0.001 millimetres into the waters of the country where its sovereignty is exercised," KCNA said.