Kim Jong-un has warned North Korea to ‘perfect the preparedness for war’ after going missing for 36 days.
The dictator told a big military meeting that his armed forces were moving into a new phase of development.
He said they should display ‘matchless military strength’ in order to perform ‘ever-victorious feats’, Korean media reported.
Kim’s top military brass also discussed ‘great’ changes to the military, including the expansion and intensification of ‘operation and combat drills’.
State media photos showed a flag possibly representing a new department called the ‘missile general bureau’.
There are fears this division will handle the development of nuclear warheads and ballistic systems.
Spokesperson for South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, Lee Sung-jun, said his team were closely monitoring any new missile department.
There has been speculation about Kim’s health as he has not been seen for more than a month, and missed his third Politburo meeting on Sunday.
But the leader, who often takes breaks from the public eye, reappeared in time for an upcoming military parade.
It is believed the capital of Pyongyang may see a celebration this week, marking the 75th anniversary of the Korean People’s Army.
South Korean officials have detected a ‘significant increase in personnel and vehicles’ in areas linked to parade rehearsals.
Last year, North Korea conducted a record-breaking number of missile tests.
The US has recently expanded its military drills with South Korea in an effort to address the evolving threat.
But the isolated state has taken this to be antagonistic, and last week threatened to counter the drills with the ‘most overwhelming nuclear force’.
Diplomacy between Washington and Pyongyang has stalled since 2019, with both sides at odds over US-led sanctions against North Korea’s nuclear program.