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(LEAD) N. Korean leader, wife make appearance at air combat competition

2016/12/04 10:35

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details in paras 3, 6, 8)

SEOUL, Dec. 4 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his wife made a rare joint appearance at an air combat training competition, the country's media reported Sunday.

Kim watched the drill and provided "field guidance" to the Korean People's Air Force and Defense (KPAF) along with his wife Ri Sol-ju, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said, without providing details about the date of the event.

This marks the first time in nine months that Ri was mentioned by the North's media after she was reported at a Pyongyang shop opening on March 28. Her long absence had fueled speculation that she might have fallen out of favor.

The media outlet said that KPAF elements displayed a high degree of tactical prowess and ability to defeat all foes in a real combat environment that reflected the overall fighting spirit of the DPRK's armed forces troops as a whole.

DPRK is the abbreviation for North Korea's full name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

After watching the event, which he first set up in 2014, Kim reportedly lauded the participants of the drill and stressed that they must be ready at all times to strike the core of the enemy if they are given the order to do so.

He stressed that the North's Air Force elements must burn a path through the enemy's ranks for the Korean People's Army to follow.

North Korean watchers in Seoul said Kim's presence at the KPAF event marks the ninth time he has visited troops in the past one month period, starting with reviewing a special forces battalion on Nov. 4.

The KCNA then said that Hwang Pyong-so, the director of the military's general political bureau, announced the top scorers of the competition with Ri Myong-su, the military's chief of general staff, handing out the awards.

yonngong@yna.co.kr

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