Seoul, Jan 11: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un looked on Monday to milk his country's recent nuclear test as a propaganda victory, praising his scientists and vowing more nuclear bombs a day after the US flew a powerful nuclear-capable warplane close to the North in a show of force.
A standoff between the rival Koreas has deepened since last week's test, the North's fourth. Seoul on Monday continued anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts across the border and announced that it will further limit the entry of South Koreans to a jointly run factory park in North Korea.
Outside North Korea, Kim faces widespread condemnation and threats of heavy sanctions over the North's disputed claim of a hydrogen bomb test. Internally, however, Kim's massive propaganda apparatus has looked to link the test to Kim's leadership so as to glorify him and portray the test as necessary to combat a US-led attempt to topple the North's authoritarian system.
Today, Kim took photos with nuclear scientists and technicians involved in the test and praised them for "having glorified" his two predecessors, his late father, Kim Jong Il, and his grandfather, state founder Kim Il Sung, according to the state-run Korean Central news Agency.
Kim earlier called the explosion "a self-defensive step" meant to protect the region "from the danger of nuclear war caused by the US-led imperialists," a separate KCNA dispatch said.
The comments provide insight into North Korea's long-running argument that it is the presence of tens of thousands of US troops in South Korea and Japan and a "hostile" US policy that justify its pursuit of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.