North Korea's Kim Jong-un
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un provides field guidance at Farm No 1116 under KPA Unit 810, in this undated photo KCNA via Reuters

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ordered a surprise firing drill when he paid a visit to an island located about 18km from South Korean territory. The reclusive leader was filled with "great joy" after watching North Korean soldiers fire at targets on Mahap islet, Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Friday (11 November).

Kim reiterated the significance of training North Korean troops as "indomitable fighters" to mount a battle against Pyongyang's adversaries.

The Korean peninsula has been witnessing heightened tensions in recent months over a series of belligerent acts, ranging from missiles launches to nuclear detonations by the North. American and South Korean forces were placed on high alert in the region in anticipation that Pyongyang could conduct provocative acts to coincide with US elections, although there have been no such instance so far.

The English dispatch from KCNA added: "Noting that the soldiers on forefront like those of the detachment should be stronger than anyone in their revolutionary faith, he underlined the need to train the soldiers of the detachment as indomitable fighters steadfast in the spirit of defending the socialist country by conducting the political and ideological education among them in a unique manner."

The visit was originally thought to be an observation tour by Kim, but he instructed forces to hold a surprise firing exercise. His visit comes just two days after he toured another key military facility in the country inspecting the combat readiness of North Korean troops.