Wednesday 17 January 2018

North threatens war over South Korea military drill

Tension: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un Photo: KCNA/AFP/Getty Images
Tension: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un Photo: KCNA/AFP/Getty Images

Julian Ryall

Pyongyang has demanded that Seoul apologises for offending the dignity of the North Korean leadership and publicly executes the officials responsible for a military exercise that simulated an attack on Kim Jong-un's headquarters.

Should Park Geun-hye, the South Korean president, fail to comply with the ultimatum, the North's state media said, "the long-range artillery forces of the Korean People's Army combined unit on the front will move over to merciless military action".

Angered by the ongoing Foal Eagle and Key Resolve military exercises in South Korea, which bring together around 300,000 South Korean troops with 17,000 US personnel, North Korea has stepped up its rhetoric in recent weeks.

The threats being made are becoming ever-more violent and there is concern that Pyongyang is painting itself into a corner. If Seoul declines to apologise and refuses to execute military planners who simulated a large-scale air raid and missile attacks on key North Korean facilities in last week's drills, then Pyongyang may feel it has little choice but to carry out some sort of cross-border provocation.

Pyongyang's latest outburst comes just hours after state media released a video depicting a North Korean submarine launching a missile and it detonating over the White House.

In response to the North's demands, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff released a statement on Sunday warning against any provocative actions and calling on Pyongyang to halt its "vulgar" verbal attacks.

The North's state media reported on Sunday that trades unions had declared themselves ready to put down their tools and "join the powerful revolutionary ... army in the battle to blow up the den of the Park regime".

The Korea Central News Agency also reported that 30,000 secondary school students were demanding to be allowed to join the military "with a strong will to annihilate the heinous provokers".

KCNA quoted Ri Hyok-song, a student, as saying: "I will become a human bomb in the final battles against the US imperialists and the South Korean puppet group of traitors."

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