SEOUL — North Korea has issued a new military threat against the United States. Also Thursday, Pyongyang’s central broadcasting station sounded an air raid warning.
North Korean media quote a spokesman for the country's army command threatening “corresponding military action” against American bases in the region.
The fresh threat is tied to Pyongyang's anger over nuclear-capable planes and submarines participating in an annual joint exercise with South Korean forces.
An announcer on North Korean television quotes an unnamed military spokesman as saying the “United States should not forget that Andersen Air Force Base on Guam where B-52's take off and naval bases in Japan and on Okinawa, where nuclear-powered submarines are launched, are within the striking range” of the North's “precision strike means.”
Pyongyang has also recently threatened the United States with a preemptive nuclear attack.
Earlier in the day (at 0930 KST/0030 UTC), Pyongyang's central broadcasting station interrupted a recording of martial music for an alert to troops and civilians.
The announcer, on a relay from the army's broadcasting station, repeatedly states “this is an air raid warning. Military units and units of all levels must quickly take measures to prevent damage from the enemy's air strikes."
An hour later, North Korean broadcasters informed the country the air raid warning had been lifted.
Kim Min-seok is a spokesman for South Korea's Ministry of National Defense.
Kim says South Korea's military is paying attention to the situation and views the air raid warning in North Korea as an “autonomous drill.”
The U.S. military, to demonstrate South Korea can rely on the nuclear umbrella it provides, has flown B-52 bombers over the peninsula during the current Foal Eagle joint drill.
South Korean military officials say a U.S. nuclear attack submarine, capable of launching long-range Tomahawk cruise missiles, is also part of the exercise.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for South Korea's presidential office (who did not want to be named) “strongly suspects” North Korea of masterminding Wednesday's massive hacking attack on the country's major TV stations and several banks.
The director-general of the (South) Korea Communications Commission, Park Jae-moon, speaking to reporters in Seoul, says the hacker targeting Nonghyup Bank was traced to a Chinese internet protocol (IP) address. Park said the hacker accessed the bank’s update management servers to upload malicious files that caused computers to shut down.
Park says “there can be many inferences based on the fact the IP address is in China” but authorities are leaving open all possibilities for now as they try to identify the hackers.
Independents analysts have released reports saying the malware was a relatively unsophisticated “wiper” strain of a Trojan virus. It first neutralized anti-virus and security software before forcing computers to re-boot. Once that happened, users found the operating system had been wiped off of their computers' hard drive.
At the affected broadcast networks, KBS, MBC and YTN, work is underway to restore thousands of affected desktop computers.
North Korea last year specifically threatened the three Seoul-based broadcasters for so-called “special activities.”
North Korea's cyber campaign appears to have been much more pervasive than previously known.
The nominee to lead South Korea's National Intelligence Service, Nam Jae-joon, in a document submitted to the National Assembly blames the North for more than 73,000 cyber attacks against the South. His report says such operations allowed Pyongyang to obtain confidential information, including military operations plans.