TODAY   |  April 01, 2013

Kim Jong Un: Nuclear weapons are North Korea’s ‘life’

As North Korean state TV shows constant images of the army bombarding South Korea, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un is saying his missiles are at the ready and has cut off emergency communications. NBC’s Richard Engel reports.

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>>> another big story we're covering this morning, the escalating tensions between north korea and the rest of the world . the u.s. is sending stealth fighter jets from japan to south korea overnight to take part in military exercises there. nbc's chief foreign correspondent richard engel is in seoul . good morning to you.

>> reporter: good morning, matt. most people in seoul think the north is bluffing but if it is, it's playing a dangerous game of brinksmanship. on state tv in north korea , the only option there, it looks like the country is at war. or gearing up for one. constant images of the army bombarding south korea . north korea 's absolute leader kim jong -un has put his missiles at the ready, called his nuclear weapons the nation's life, and appeared in front of a map labeled "plans to attack the american mainland." the united states is taking it seriously. its annual military drills with south korea are now far more tense. the u.s. last week flew b-2 stealth bombers over south korea and b-52s, capable of carrying american nukes, that apparently really upset the north koreans , who put out this animation of the planes being shot down and unleashing a nuclear disaster . but in the south korean capital, seoul , you'd never know any of this. the mood is repllaxed, blas.

>> keep inside we want to ignore because we don't want war.

>> reporter: what there is a serious risk of a miscalculation. consider this, if the north actually fired its missiles at the south t would take just a few minutes for the south to see them and most likely fire back and now the north has cut off its emergency military communications , those red phones between the two leaderships are unplugged so an escalation could be hard to contain. analysts say kim jong -un is trying to solidify his leadership at home by manufacturing a crisis so he can look like a hero to his people. matt?

>> richard engel in seoul , south carolina this morning, thank you very much.