A number of South Korean army training centres are using pictures of North Korea's reclusive leader Kim Jong-II and his youngest son and heir apparent, Kim Jong-Un, as targets on rifle ranges, a top official said.
"Each centre has the freedom to decide its own training procedures and the ministry issued no instructions about targets. Details of military practices are for each training centre to decide," 'The Daily Telegraph' quoted the South Korean military spokesperson as saying.
Another military official was quoted as saying by the 'Chosun Ilbo' newspaper that the practice is aimed at "boosting battle spirit" following the North's bombardment of a border island last November that killed four South Koreans.
"Some voice concern that the practice can provoke the North, but one should not forget the North staged two attacks that killed our civilians and soldiers," the official said.
South Korea accuses the North of sinking a warship in 2010 with the loss of 46 lives. The North denies the charge.
Disrespecting portraits of the ruling family would be a grave crime in the North, where a massive personality cult surrounds the Kim family. Official North Korean media in 2007 carried approving accounts of parents who sacrificed children to save such portraits during floods.