Kim announces new goals for the country's military for 2023 at an ongoing meeting of ruling Workers' Party, hinting at another year of intensive weapons tests and tension.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has presented multiple goals to further bolster his military power next year at a meeting of top political officials, state media reported, in an indication he will continue his provocative run of weapons displays.
On the second day of the Sixth Enlarged Plenary Meeting of the party's 8th Central Committee, Kim reviewed the "newly created challenging situation" on the Korean peninsula and the broader political landscapes, Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on Wednesday.
Kim "set forth new key goals for bolstering up the self-reliant defence capability to be pushed ahead within 2023 under the multilaterally changing situation," KCNA said.
The third-generation leader set the direction for the "anti-enemy struggle" and goals for reinforcing defence power, it added.
"He specified the principles of foreign affairs and the direction of the struggle against the enemy that our party and government must thoroughly abide by in order to protect sovereign rights and defend national interests," KCNA said.
Kim's statement came as animosities with rival South Korea rose sharply this week as the South accused the North of flying drones across the rivals' border for the first time in five years.
This year, North Korea already performed a record number of missile tests in what experts call an attempt to modernise its arsenal and increase its leverage in future dealings with the United States.
READ MORE: South Korea fires warning shots after North's drones violate airspace
Seoul fails to down drones
Some observers say the new goals could be related to Kim's push to expand his nuclear arsenal and introduce a spate of high-tech weapons systems such as multi-warhead missiles, a more agile long-range weapon, a spy satellite and advanced drones.
They say Kim would eventually aim to use his boosted nuclear capability to force its rivals to accept the North as a legitimate nuclear state, a status he would think is essential in getting international sanctions on his country to be lifted.
On Monday, South Korea's military fired warning shots and launched fighter jets and helicopters after detecting what it called five North Korean drones that violated the South's airspace.
South Korea also flew its own surveillance assets, in a likely reference to unmanned drones, across the border into North Korea in response.
South Korea's military said it had failed to shoot down the drones and offered a public apology for causing security concerns.
President Yoon Suk Yeol called for strong air defence and high-tech stealth drones to better monitor North Korea.
Some experts say the North Korean drone flights might have been designed to test South Korean and US readiness and neutralise a previous inter-Korean tension-reduction agreement.
They say North Korea likely assess its drone flights have caused security jitters and a domestic divide in South Korea.
READ MORE: Belligerent North Korea ratchets up tensions, fires two ballistic missiles