North Korean leader lashes out at 'rabid dogs'

SEOUL – North Korean state media issued an aggressive statement from leader Kim Jong-un Saturday after U.S. President Barack Obama's recent suggestion that Pyongyang's leadership would collapse under pressure from outside.

In an apparent reference to Washington, Kim accused "rabid dogs openly barking" of attempting to undermine North Korea's brand of socialism – a blend of Korean nationalism and Soviet-inspired communism.

In the report carried by Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency, Kim also threatened to respond to "any war" with nuclear weapons.

Relations between North Korea and the U.S. have been increasingly strained in recent months with the U.S. openly accusing Pyongyang of a cyber attack on Sony Pictures over “The Interview,” a movie depicting a plot to assassinate Kim.

Kim's remarks were made during a military exercise simulating a North Korean attack on U.S. forces in the South.

Nearly 30,000 American military personnel are stationed in South Korea, which is technically still at war with the North due to a lack of a peace treaty at the close of the 1950-53 Korean War.

Kim, the third in a family line of North Korean dictators, took power after the death of his father in 2011.

Despite disappearing from the public eye for more than a month last year, Kim is generally considered to have consolidated his position through a purge of elites highlighted by the execution of his own uncle.

Obama asserted in an interview at the White House on Jan. 22 that "over time you will see a regime like this collapse." The president also pointed to the potential role of the Internet in "penetrating this country."

In addition to United Nations sanctions, Pyongyang is also under global pressure over its well-documented human rights violations.

Despite widespread reports of oppression, the regime is defiant with Kim insisting in his latest comments that the country's political system is one which its "people consider dearer than their own lives."

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