Kim Jong Un watched the recent launch of what appeared to be a new short-range ballistic missile, North Korean state media has confirmed.
The country’s leader was pictured watching Saturday’s drills and expressed “great satisfaction”, according to Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
He was also quoted as saying that soldiers should keep a “high alert posture” and strengthen their ability to defend the country.
KCNA said: “Praising the People’s Army for its excellent operation of modern large-calibre long-range multiple rocket launchers and tactical guided weapons, he said that all the service members are master gunners and they are capable of carrying out duty to promptly tackle any situation.
Pyongyang has been frustrated in recent months with the lack of progress in talks with the US.
The talks were meant to move towards sanctions relief for North Korea in return for nuclear disarmament.
But despite the show of goodwill between Mr Kim and US president Donald Trump during two summits, there has been little achieved and the talks have largely stalled.
On Saturday, several projectiles were launched from near the eastern city of Wonsan, flying up to 125 miles before falling into the sea. The distance is roughly that between Wonsan and South Korea’s capital Seoul.
South Korea said it was “very concerned” and described the weapons launches as a violation of an agreement signed last September to cease “all hostile acts” against one another.
They also urged North Korea to join diplomatic efforts.
Kim Dong-yub, an analyst at Seoul’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies, said: “The North tried to clearly demonstrate its abilities to strike any target on the Korean Peninsula, including US troops stationed across the country in areas such as Seoul, Pyeongtaek, Daegu and Busan.”
Despite the increase in military tensions, Mr Trump has insisted he could still strike a deal with the North Korean leader.
He wrote on Twitter: “Anything in this very interesting world is possible, but I believe that Kim Jong Un fully realises the great economic potential of North Korea and will do nothing to interfere or end it.
“He also knows that I am with him and does not want to break his promise to me. Deal will happen!”
North Korea’s last major missile test was in November 2017, with an intercontinental ballistic missile which showed it was close to being able to reach deep into the US mainland.