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

    Steve Herman is VOA's Senior Diplomatic Correspondent, based at the State Department.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    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.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora