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

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

Physically and culturally close to Western Europe, Lviv feels solidarity with compatriots in country’s east but says they need to decide own future More

West African Women Disproportionately Affected by Ebola

Women's roles in families and the community put them at greater risk for contracting the disease, officials say More

Video NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Arrives at Mars

Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft will measure rates at which gases escape Martian atmosphere into space 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.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
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 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 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.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid