North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said in his New Year's speech on Friday that he is prepared to launch a "holy war of justice" against any invasive outsiders and provocateurs.
"We will continue to work patiently to achieve peace on the Korean Peninsula and regional stability. But if invasive outsiders and provocateurs touch us even slightly, we will not be forgiving in the least and sternly answer with a merciless, holy war of justice," Kim said in what was his fourth New Year's address since taking power in 2011, according to The Associated Press.
During the 30-minute televised speech, Kim also spoke of the need to increase the "political and military might" of North Korea in "every way."
"The year 2015 was a year of gigantic struggle recorded with significant events and eye-opening successes and a year of victory and glory that strikingly demonstrated the dignity and might of socialist Korea," he said.
Kim also stressed that he would take steps to improve the economic situation of the country and was willing to continue working on improving relations with South Korea. Tensions escalated in August after a landmine at the border injured two South Korean soldiers. The countries met for talks and reached an agreement to end their military standoff, but high-level talks held last month were not fruitful, according to USA Today.
"We are willing to have talks in an open-minded manner with anyone who wants peace and unification," Kim said. "South Korea should honor the spirit of the inter-Korean agreement in August. Seoul should refrain from doing acts that hurt the conciliatory mood."
In response to Kim's speech, South Korea's foreign ministry said it was open to talks, reported Sky News, citing the Yonhap News Agency, "North Korea should note that we are seeking to develop inter-Korean relations and lay the groundwork for peaceful unification," said an unnamed government official.