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, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

You May Like

Thousands of Ethiopian Israelis Rally Against Racism

PM Netanyahu says he will meet Damas Pakada, the Ethiopia-born Israeli soldier who was filmed being beaten by two policemen More

Ten Migrants Drown in Mediterranean, 4,800 Rescued

All of those rescued are being ferried to Italian ports, with some arriving on Italy's southernmost island, Lampedusa, and others taken to Sicily and Calabria More

HRW: Saudis Using US Cluster Bombs in Yemen

Human Rights Watch says photographs, video and other evidence have emerged indicating cluster munitions have been used in 'recent weeks' in airstrikes in Houthi stronghold in northern Yemen 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.
From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil Wari
X
Henry Ridgwell
May 03, 2015 1:12 AM
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Black Families Use Baltimore Case to Revisit 'Police Talk'

Following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody this month, VOA interviewed black families throughout the eastern U.S. city of Baltimore about how they discuss the case. Over and over, parents pointed to a crucial talk they say every black mother or father has with their children. Victoria Macchi has more on how this conversation is passed down through generations.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video 'Woman in Gold' Uses Artwork as Symbol of Cultural Identity

Simon Curtis’ legal drama, "Woman in Gold," is based on the true story of an American Jewish refugee from Austria who fights to reclaim a famous Gustav Klimt painting stolen from her family by the Nazis during World War II. It's a haunting film that speaks to the hearts of millions who have sought to reclaim their past, stripped from them 70 years ago. VOA's Penelope Poulou reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video First Surgical Glue Approved for Use Inside Body

While medical adhesives are becoming more common, none had been approved for use inside the body until now. Earlier this year, the first ever biodegradable surgical glue won that approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on the innovation and its journey from academia to market.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Study: One in Six Species Threatened with Extinction

Climate change is transforming the planet. Unless steps are taken to reduce global warming, scientists predict rising seas, stronger and more frequent storms, drought, fire and floods. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, a new study on species extinction underscores the need to take action to avoid the most catastrophic effects of rising temperatures.
Video

Video Taviani Brothers' 'Wondrous Boccaccio' Offers Tales of Love, Humor

The Italian duo of Paolo and Vittorio Taviani have been making movies for half a century: "The Night of the Shooting Stars," "Padre Padrone," "Good Morning, Babylon." Now in their 80s, the brothers have turned to one of the treasures of Italian culture for their latest film. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver reports.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Baltimore Riots Shed Light on City’s Troubled Past

National Guard troops took up positions Tuesday in Baltimore, Maryland, as authorities tried to restore order after rioting broke out a day earlier. It followed Monday's funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died while in police custody earlier this month. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Challenges Await Aid Organizations on the Ground in Nepal

A major earthquake rocked Nepal on Saturday and killed thousands, injured thousands more and sent countless Nepalese outside to live in makeshift tent villages. The challenges to Nepal are enormous, with some reconstruction estimates at around $5 billion. Aid workers from around the world face challenges getting into Nepal, which likely makes for a difficult recovery. Arash Arabasadi has the story from Washington.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs