‘North Korea scales down annual tank firing contest’
SEOUL: North Korea has reduced the size of an annual firing contest for its armoured units in 2018 and its top leader Kim Jong-un abstained from attending the competition, apparently due to the ongoing peace climate in the peninsula, the South Korean government said on Saturday.
Kim did not attend the competition, held within the first six months of 2018, which he had attended in 2016 and 2017, Efe news reported quoting the South Korean government.
“The North Korean military held a mobilisation and firing competition among its tank units in a border area last week. But the number of participating units and equipment decreased remarkably from 2017,” according to a government source.
The tank firing contest is held in frontline areas and functions as training for armoured units, although it is carried out in a manner similar to a real battle, which has led to criticism from Seoul in the past. Tanks are scored by their speed and how well they fire at moving and fixed targets, apart from their ability to avoid obstacles.
South Korean officials have said the downsising of the competition is related to improved relations between the two countries after the inter-Korean summit held on 27 April. The militaries of South Korea and the US have also carried out their annual joint exercises more discreetly ahead of the upcoming historic meeting between Kim and US President Donald Trump in Singapore on 12 June.