News / Asia

S. Korea Steps Up Preparations Amid Threats of North Missile Launch

South Korean soldier stands on a military guard post near the demilitarized zone (DMZ) dividing the two Koreas in the border city of Paju on April 5, 2013.
South Korean soldier stands on a military guard post near the demilitarized zone (DMZ) dividing the two Koreas in the border city of Paju on April 5, 2013.
South Korea's military is stepping up preparations for anticipated missile launches by North Korea. Meanwhile, the Cabinet minister in Seoul in charge of North-South relations says it is up to Pyongyang to keep in operation the only joint project of the two Koreas.

South Korea has dispatched two of its warships, equipped with advanced missile tracking radar, amid rising concern North Korea could soon conduct provocative missile launches.

One ship has been placed off the west coast of the Korean peninsula, the other is monitoring the east coast.

North Korean vehicle carrying a missile passes by during a mass military parade in Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung Square to celebrate the centenary of the birth of the late North Korean founder Kim Il Sung, April 15, 2012.North Korean vehicle carrying a missile passes by during a mass military parade in Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung Square to celebrate the centenary of the birth of the late North Korean founder Kim Il Sung, April 15, 2012.
x
North Korean vehicle carrying a missile passes by during a mass military parade in Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung Square to celebrate the centenary of the birth of the late North Korean founder Kim Il Sung, April 15, 2012.
North Korean vehicle carrying a missile passes by during a mass military parade in Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung Square to celebrate the centenary of the birth of the late North Korean founder Kim Il Sung, April 15, 2012.
South Korea's semi-official news agency, Yonhap - quoting what is described as a top government official - reports North Korea has now placed a second intermediate-range missile on a mobile launcher.

The Ministry of National Defense in Seoul on Thursday confirmed the movement of one missile.

The Yonhap report says both missiles have now been hidden in a military facility near the east coast.


Strategic motivation

Northeast Asia security specialist Alexandre Mansourov, a visiting scholar at the U.S.-Korea Institute of the John Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies, has a theory about the strategic motivations behind North Korea's brinkmanship.

Mansourov, who studied at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang, says North Korea might expect further provocation will make Washington and the U.N. Security Council hesitant to impose harsher sanctions on a state already quite isolated and impoverished.

“They want to scare the world well enough so that after the missile test or nuclear test when we decide to convene and pass another round of sanctions against them, another round of condemnation, we would think twice, do we really want to bring the escalation by another notch up or not,” said Mansourov.

South Korean officials and independent defense analysts speculate Pyongyang may time missile launches to coincide with an April 15 national holiday. That is when North Korea celebrates “The Day of the Sun” to commemorate the birth of its late founder, Kim Il Sung.

Kaesong

At the only joint project involving the two Koreas, the Kaesong industrial complex, operations were suspended Friday, which is a national holiday in North Korea.

On the two previous days, the North did not allow any cargo trucks or South Korean citizens to enter. The vehicles and the managers of numerous small factories making household goods were not given permits required to cross the border.

Ryoo Kihl-jae, the Cabinet minister in charge of the South's relations with the North, in lieu of diplomatic ties, was asked at what point would South Korea consider pulling its officials and factory managers out of the complex.

The Unification Minister says the government is “willing to clear out the South Koreans in the Kaesong industrial complex if it is required for their safety.” Ryoo adds, however, the present assessment is that "the situation is not very dangerous" for the 608 South Korean nationals and six Chinese voluntarily remaining inside the zone in the
North.

About 100 South Koreans plan to exit the zone and return home Saturday.

Bracing for possibilities

The Unification minister says the government is “bracing for all possibilities” from the threats posed by North Korea concerning the safety of the South Korean people.

Ryoo, however, is not closing the door totally to the possibility of better relations.  South Korea, he tells correspondents, “will adopt a flexible approach and provide assistance together with the international community” to Pyongyang should it choose “to walk the right path towards change.”

North Korea last month renounced the 1953 armistice it signed along with China and the U.S.-led U.N. Command, which ended three years of devastating war. Since abrogating the cease-fire it has declared a state of war existing between the two Koreas and repeatedly threatened to launch a nuclear strike on the United States and its Pacific region bases.

Officials in Seoul and Washington say they have detected no signs of any North Korean troops mobilizing.

  • South Korean soldiers patrol along a barbed-wire fence, near the demilitarized zone that separates the two Koreas in Paju, north of Seoul, April 5, 2013.
  • A couple looks at a map showing the demilitarized zone that separates the two Koreas, at the Imjingak pavilion in Paju, north of Seoul, April 5, 2013.
  • U.S. Army Patriot missile air defence artillery batteries are seen at U.S. Osan air base in Osan, south of Seoul, April 5, 2013.
  • South Korean soldiers take part in military training near the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in Paju, north of Seoul, April 4, 2013.
  • U.S. soldiers wear gas masks while attending a demonstration of their equipment during a ceremony to recognize the battalion's official return to the 2nd Infantry Division based in South Korea at Camp Stanley in Uijeongbu, north of Seoul, April 4, 2013.
  • South Korean vehicles turn back after being refused entry to Kaesong, North Korea, April 3, 2013.
  • Anti-war protesters raise signs during a rally denouncing the joint military drills between the South Korea and the United States near the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, April 3, 2013.
  • North Koreans attend a rally against the United States and South Korea in Nampo, North Korea, April 3, 2013.
  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un presides over a plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea in Pyongyang March 31, 2013 in this picture released by the North's official KCNA news agency.

Steve Herman

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

You May Like

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
April 07, 2013 12:52 AM
North Korea has threatened world peace in a nuclear way.
Any projectiles fired from North Korea towards the ocean , should be intercepted and destroyed wherever it is going. This will show NK that the world is not playing games with nukes. Because of their nuclear ambitions any rockets fired into space should also be intercepted as well.

A 28 year old kid threatinging world peace needs a smack.

by: harold from: USA
April 05, 2013 1:10 PM
It's time to recognize the juche spirit of self-relint independence, and leave the DPRK alone.
Really alone. Seal the borders and let them be self-reliant for as long as they do not threaten anyone outside their nation.


by: Xand from: Belarus
April 05, 2013 11:08 AM
I believe, the US should take the chance and terminate this inhuman regime. Further generations of Korean people will be absolutely grateful! Don't let that fucked commy to talk with you like this!

by: idun moses from: accra, ghana
April 05, 2013 9:56 AM
the world need peace but not a war.

by: yanglei from: china
April 05, 2013 7:44 AM
Maybe there will be a war between the two koreas,though I hope there will not be one.
The north korea is so aggressive and belligerent, that I have to say the Kim Jong-un maybe the second saddam if he donot stop the things he have been doing.

by: robert lyles
April 05, 2013 6:50 AM
I think we should put as many or much sanctions on North Korea as is posiable.If you let a punk like this call any shots you can bet you will regret it.give an inch and he will take a mile.i say cut him off at the kneees.we do not need to be at war with these people again.we can take out there military with out even steping foot on there land.lets do it and get it over with once and for all.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More