North Korea's Kim visits military unit involved in shelling S. Korea

SEOUL (AFP) - With tensions surging on the Korean peninsula, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un talked of "all-out war" as he toured a frontline unit that shelled the South in 2010, state media said on Friday.

Visiting two islands close to the disputed maritime border with South Korea on Thursday, Mr Kim said the North's military was "fully ready to fight a Korean style all-out war," the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

The tour coincided with an outpouring of vitriol from Pyongyang over UN sanctions imposed for its nuclear test last month, with the North threatening pre-emptive nuclear strikes on the US and its allies, and vowing to rip up peace pacts with South Korea.

Speaking to troops stationed on the islands, Mr Kim said the slightest provocation would result in his immediate order for a "great advance" along the entire frontline with the South.

On Mu island he inspected artillery units that shelled the nearby South Korean island of Yeonpyeong in November 2010, killing four people and triggering an exchange of fire that sparked fears of a full-blown conflict.

State television showed Mr Kim inspecting the craters left by South artillery shells on the island in what he described as the "most gratifying" battle since the end of the Korean war in 1953.

The television footage showed him with binoculars looking across at Yeonpyeong island and apparently discussing target selection with the artillery officers.

"He reconfirmed in detail reinforced fire power strike means and targets of the enemy deployed on five islets," including Yeonpyeong island and "defined the order of precision strikes" on those targets, KCNA said.

Mr Kim was accompanied on his tour by top members of the North Korean leadership, including political commissar Choe Ryong Hae and Defence Minister Kim Kyok Sik.

The television showed troops with their families and young children cheering and hugging Mr Kim wherever he went.

At the end of the trip, the soldiers ran down to the beach and waded chest deep into the water clutching at Mr Kim's motor launch as it moved away.