North Korea claims about 800,000 of its citizens have volunteered to join or re-enlist in the nation’s military to fight the United States, North Korea’s state-run newspaper reported on Saturday.

About 800,000 students and workers across the country on Friday alone expressed their desire to enlist or re-enlist in the army to counter the United States, the Rodong Sinmun newspaper reported.

“The growing enthusiasm of the youth to join the army is a demonstration of the unwavering will of the younger generation to ruthlessly eliminate the war maniacs who are making last-ditch efforts to eliminate our precious socialist country and achieve the great cause of national reunification without failure and a clear manifestation of their ardent patriotism,” the newspaper said.

North Korea’s claim came after the secretive communist state launched its Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Thursday, in response to ongoing US and South Korean military exercises.

Pyongyang fired the intercontinental ballistic missile into the sea between the Korean peninsula and Japan on Thursday, hours before the South Korean president flew to Tokyo for a summit that discussed ways to counter the North’s nuclear weapon.

North Korea’s ballistic missiles are banned under United Nations Security Council resolutions and the launch drew condemnation from the governments of Seoul, Washington and Tokyo.

South Korean and US forces began 11 days of joint drills, dubbed «Freedom Shield 23,» on a scale not seen since 2017 on Monday to counter growing threats from the North.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has accused the United States and South Korea of ​​raising tensions with military exercises.