News / Asia

North Korea Prepares Public for Potential Conflict With South

A bus covered in a net-like object drives on a street in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this photo taken by Kyodo, March 6, 2013.
A bus covered in a net-like object drives on a street in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this photo taken by Kyodo, March 6, 2013.
North Korea appears to be preparing its people for a potential conflict with the U.S.-backed South, by taking steps to camouflage public transport and broadcasting messages from citizens in favor of war.

South Korean and Japanese media reported Wednesday that authorities in Pyongyang have begun to cover up buses and trains with camouflage netting, a precautionary measure that has not been seen in the North Korean capital for years. South Korea's Yonhap news agency said the situation in Pyongyang was similar to 1993 when it declared a quasi state of war shortly before withdrawing from the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

North Korean state television also broadcast footage of Pyongyang residents, such as this man, expressing support for the government's threat to scrap a 1953 armistice with the United States in the coming days.

"North Korea cannot stand it any more," he said. "As long as the U.S. and South Korean puppets want war, I think we should form a strong army to take hold of this opportunity to reunify the Korean peninsula."

South Korean media said Pyongyang also has started submarine training as part of a program of military exercises.

South Korean General Kim Yong-hyun reacted to the latest North Korean moves by vowing a "strong and decisive" response if Pyongyang follows through on Tuesday's threat to break the truce.

"If North Korea dares to undertake provocation and to threaten the lives and safety of our people, we make it clear that we have all preparations in place for a strong and decisive punishment, not only against the source of the aggression and its support forces, but also the commanding element," said General Yong-hyun.

North Korea said it plans to void the 1953 cease-fire that ended the Korean War because of a U.S.-led drive for sanctions against it and ongoing military exercises between Seoul and Washington.

It is not unusual for Pyongyang to issue such statements during times of heightened tension on the Korean peninsula. But, analysts said the latest threats may be more serious, because they were made by a high-ranking official, and came with a deadline.

In a Tuesday appearance on state television, North Korean General Kim Yong Chol said Pyongyang will "completely nullify" the armistice beginning March 11, and cut off communications to U.S. and South Korean forces at the border village of Panmunjom.

The deadline coincides with the start of a second round of U.S.-South Korea military exercises. A first round began earlier this month. The U.S. has said the annual drills are defensive in nature, but North Korea views them as preparation to invade.

Meanwhile, United Nations diplomats said they hope to vote Thursday on a resolution punishing North Korea for its latest nuclear test last month. The Security Council held a closed-door meeting on the issue Tuesday.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said the resolution would impose some of the toughest sanctions ever ordered by the United Nations. She said the sanctions would target illicit activities by the North's diplomats and Pyongyang's banking relationships. It also would tighten inspections on cargo headed to and from the country.

The resolution, which has the support of both the U.S. and China, may further anger an already isolated North Korea. But despite its latest threats, many analysts said Pyongyang is unlikely to carry out large-scale clashes in response to the sanctions.

Mike Chinoy, an Asia analyst at the University of Southern California, told VOA the real danger lies in the possibility of an accidental clash next week, when North Korea is due to stage competing military drills at the same time as the United States and South Korea.

"All it would take is one helicopter that has a mechanical problem and has to come down on the North Korean side of the demilitarized zone, or some firing exercises in which somebody puts in the wrong coordinates and an artillery shell goes in the other direction," said Chinoy. "These kinds of accidents, which have happened before, could in the current circumstances create a dynamic of escalation that would be harder to manage."

The waters outside North and South Korea have been the scene of several deadly incidents in the past decade. The South blames the North for a 2010 torpedo attack on one of its coastal naval vessels that killed 46 personnel. Later that year, North Korea shelled a frontier island where the South has a military base. That attack killed four people, including two civilians.

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

Beloved Lion Killing Sparks Virtual, Real Life Outrage

Twitter, as usual, was epicenter for anger directed at Palmer, with some questioning his manhood, calling for him to be released into the wild More

Video Booming London Property Market a Haven for Dirty Money

Billions of dollars from proceeds of crime, especially from Russia, being laundered through London property market, according to anti-corruption activists More

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

One former Scout leader thinks organization will move past political, social debate, get back to its primary focus of turning boys into good citizens More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
March 07, 2013 5:30 AM
It would be the world against N Korea. They don't stand a chance.

by: NVO from: USA
March 06, 2013 6:12 PM
F! North Korea and your autocracy. Crazy regime.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs