News / Asia

US, S. Korea Remain on Heightened Alert

A U.S. Army soldier gestures to a fellow solider as they participate in annual military drills in Yeoncheon, South Korea, near the border with North Korea, April 11, 2013.
A U.S. Army soldier gestures to a fellow solider as they participate in annual military drills in Yeoncheon, South Korea, near the border with North Korea, April 11, 2013.
U.S. and South Korean forces remain on heightened alert for a possible North Korean missile test that officials say could take place at any time. A Japanese news media report Thursday said North Korea appeared to be preparing to launch a missile.  But there has been no announcement from North Korea on any imminent launches.

South Korea's ministry of national defense says it cannot confirm a report that a North Korean missile launcher has been observed in a “raised position.”

Japan's Kyodo news agency issued such a dispatch, quoting a source in the Japanese defense ministry.

In Seoul, Ministry of National Defense spokesman Kim Min-seok said it is anticipated that a firing of one or more missiles will occur before or around next Monday, the birth anniversary of North Korea's founder Kim Il Sung.  But he said little else about is known.

"Nobody knows if North Korea is going to launch a missile, how many and whether it will head towards the east coast, the Philippines or our southern coast," said Kim.

The South's defense ministry spokesman adds that he cannot confirm reports that North Korea is moving around its missile launcher vehicles to confuse intelligence monitoring and thwart South Korea and the United States from determining the precise moment of launch.

Media reports say a pair of Musudan intermediate range ballistic missiles is being shuffled in and out of a shed in the port city of Wonsan, while up to five transport erector-launcher vehicles are moving around South Hamgyeong province.

Before previous launches, North Korea notified mariners and commercial aviators of its intent to conduct missile tests. There have been no such announcements, so far, from Pyongyang. And, there have been no indications that the North has mobilized its large army.

Other forces in the region remain on high alert, in case of any military provocation by North Korea.

The U.S. Navy has two anti-missile destroyers in waters off the peninsula. It has also moved a sea-based 85-meter tall radar platform into position in the Pacific.

South Korea's military has ships equipped with the advanced Aegis missile-tracking radar system. It also has deployed anti-missile Patriot class batteries and observation aircraft, as part of a coordinated effort to track and possibly shoot down any missile over the country.

Japan has set up anti-missile PAC-3 batteries in various locations. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has ordered them to be used to intercept any missile that might cross over the country and destroy any falling debris from a multi-stage flight.

Japan's chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, says Tokyo has told Pyongyang, via diplomatic channels, to halt its provocations.

Suga says every possible measure is being taken to protect Japanese people's lives and ensure the country's security.

  • North Korean children hold up red scarves to be tied around their necks during an induction ceremony into the Korean Children's Union held at a stadium in Pyongyang, April 12, 2013.
  • Two military officers admire displays at a flower show featuring thousands of Kimilsungia flowers, named after the late North Korean leader Kim Il Sung, Pyongyang, April 12, 2013.
  • South Korean soldiers stand guard at an observation post near the demilitarized zone (DMZ) which separates the two Koreas in Paju, north of Seoul April 11, 2013.
  • Female North Korean soldiers patrol along the banks of Yalu River, near the North Korean town of Sinuiju, opposite the Chinese border city of Dandong, April 11, 2013.
  • A North Korean man blocks his face with his hand from being photographed as he and other residents take a ferry in Yalu River, near the North Korean town of Sinuiju, opposite the Chinese border city of Dandong, April 11, 2013.
  • People take part in an oath-taking before the statues of late North Korean leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il on Mansudae Hill in Pyongyang, April 10, 2013. (KCNA)
  • Anti-North Korean protesters release balloons with peace messages on the Grand Unification Bridge leading to the North near the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, in Paju, north of Seoul, April 10, 2013.
  • South Koreans arrive with their belongings from North Korea's Kaesong at the customs, immigration and quarantine office near the border village of Panmunjom, in Paju, north of Seoul, South Korea, April 9, 2013.
  • Visitors look at the industrial complex in Kaesong, North Korea, through binoculars at Dora Observation Post in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) near the border village of Panmunjom, in Paju, South Korea, April 9, 2013.
  • A South Korean military vehicle passes by gates leading to the North Korean city of Kaesong at the customs, immigration and quarantine office near the border village of Panmunjom, April 8, 2013.
  • An elementary school teacher orders her students to leave as they watch South Korean housewives denounce annual South Korean-U.S. military exercises, near the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, April 8, 2013.
  • South Korean army soldiers patrol along a barbed-wire fence near the border village of the Panmunjom, in Paju, South Korea, April 8, 2013.
  • North Korean military dogs run to a target with a portrait of South Korean Defence Minister Kim Kwan-jin during a military drill, April 6, 2013. (KCNA)

For the first time, Thursday, North Korea's state media mentioned, by name, South Korea's president, who was inaugurated on February 25.

A radio announcer, reading a dispatch from the Korean Central News Agency, says the “Park Geun-hye regime stands for confrontation” with North Korea, adding the “chief executive” in the South cannot shirk responsibility for the risk of failure of the Kaesong Industrial Zone.

Hours later in Seoul, the cabinet minister in charge of relations with the North stepped before a microphone at the Ministry of Unification.

Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae says “North Korea must favor discussion for issues that it wants to raise.”

But when pressed on whether he was calling for two-way official talks, Ryoo explained "that rather than a proposal for dialog" his statement is intended as a pronouncement on the need for dialog to resolve outstanding problems, such as the Kaesong project and "North Korea's increasing threatening actions."

This week, North Korea pulled its 53,000 workers out of the factory complex, the only remaining joint project between the two Koreas. It has refused to issue permits for South Korean managers and cargo trucks to enter the complex, last week.

The high tension on the peninsula has prompted Taiwan to issue a travel alert to its citizens. Its foreign ministry is advising Taiwanese to delay travel to South Korea because the situation is “unclear.”

A foreign ministry spokesman in Seoul told reporters Thursday there is no reason for anyone to avoid visiting South Korea.

A North Korean peace committee, which is a government agency, issued an appeal this week to foreigners in South Korea that, in consideration for their own safety, they should leave the country.

That appears to have been largely ignored by expatriates and tourists in South Korea.

Last week, North Korea asked diplomats in Pyongyang to devise embassy evacuation plans by Wednesday, contending war could break out at any time.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Observer from: Southeastasia
April 12, 2013 12:58 AM
Seeing the panicky reactions of many people in South Korea and Japan, and their leaders, this young "demigod" and his generals have been laughing, eating, and sleeping bettter. They seem to act better than Hollywood actors.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid