News / Asia

S. Korea Vows Retaliation if North Breaks Truce

A North Korean soldier looks through a window as a South Korean stands guard at the U.N. truce village building that sits on the border of the Demilitarized Zone in Panmunjon, South Korea. (File)A North Korean soldier looks through a window as a South Korean stands guard at the U.N. truce village building that sits on the border of the Demilitarized Zone in Panmunjon, South Korea. (File)
x
A North Korean soldier looks through a window as a South Korean stands guard at the U.N. truce village building that sits on the border of the Demilitarized Zone in Panmunjon, South Korea. (File)
A North Korean soldier looks through a window as a South Korean stands guard at the U.N. truce village building that sits on the border of the Demilitarized Zone in Panmunjon, South Korea. (File)
South Korea is responding firmly to North Korea's threat to abrogate next Monday the peninsula's truce agreement and resume military action.

"If North Korea conducts any provocations that threaten the life and safety of South Koreans then it should be clear there will be strong and decisive punishment not only against the source of the aggression and its support forces, but also the commanding element," South Korean army general Kim Yong-hyun told reporters Wednesday at the Ministry of National Defense.

The South Korean response follows some of the most explicit threats of action in years from the North.

The Wednesday edition of the North Korean worker's party newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, says Pyongyang will be compelled to take action because joint annual drills involving U.S. and South Korean forces are actually intended as a surprise "preemptive nuclear strike" against the North.

No Plans To Reduce Participation In Joint Drills

U.S. Forces Korea spokeswoman Jennifer Buschick says "there are no current plans to reduce participation or scope" of annual defensive joint drills, including the Key Resolve command post exercise set to commence March 11th. Key Resolve will involve 3,500 members of the U.S. forces and about 10,000 South Korean military personnel.

The North's official news agency, KCNA, quotes the army's supreme command as saying it intends to counter the American-led military operation with a "diversified precision nuclear strike means of Korean style."

North Korean radio and television late Tuesday preempted their 8 p.m. newscasts to carry a ten-minute statement read by General Kim Yong Chol, head of the army's General Reconnaissance Bureau.

The four-star general, with a reputation as a hardliner, declared the armistice will be "totally nullified" and that the hotline between North Korean and U.S. forces at the Panmunjom truce village will be cut.

North Korea “will make a strike of justice at any target anytime it pleases without limit, not bound to the armistice agreement and achieve the great cause of the country reunification, the cherished desire of the nation,” Kim said.

North Korea made a previous threat, in 2009, to abrogate the armistice.

North Korean Intentions Difficult To Predict

Japan's Kyodo news agency, in a report from Pyongyang, says “indications of North Korea preparing for a war were observable in the capital” as people began covering buses and trains with camouflage netting. The report adds that according to North Koreans it is the first time in many years such preparatory measures to evade attack have been taken.

Analysts say it is difficult to predict Pyongyang's intentions. North Korea has, in the past, backed away from brinksmanship while at other times its rhetoric has been followed by action, including military strikes.

Chang Yong-seok, senior researcher with the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies at Seoul National University, says these kind of statements are intended for domestic political consumption to maintain a sense of crisis among the North Korean people. But Chang cautions the possibility of an actual military provocation by Pyongyang is now higher than normal. He explains it is hard to predict what will happen or when. But he says the North Koreans do not want to conduct an offensive action that would lead to full-scale war.

South Korea's semi-official Yonhap news agency quotes military sources in Seoul as saying North Korea has begun submarine drills in the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan (East Sea) and increased preparations for its own nationwide military exercises next week.

Past Military Drills Have Sparked Skirmishes

South Korea blames the North for a 2010 torpedo attack on one of its coast naval vessels that killed 46 personnel. Later that same year North Korea shelled Yeonpyeong island in what it says was retaliation for a South Korean military drill. The artillery attack killed four people, including two civilians.

Asia analyst Mike Chinoy at the University of Southern California tells VOA he is concerned about the possibility of an accidental clash next week when military exercises are under way on both sides of the DMZ.

"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," says 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.”

Tokyo is "continuing to prepare for all contingencies" in order to maintain its peace and security, Japanese deputy chief cabinet secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters Wednesday.

White House spokesman Jay Carney on Tuesday described the latest threats from North Korea as "not new" and urged it to heed "President Obama's call to choose the path of peace and come into compliance with its international obligations."

United Nations Poised To Enact New Sanctions

The U.N. Security Council, meanwhile, is poised to enact new sanctions in the wake of North Korea's rocket launch in December and its third nuclear test last month.

A draft resulting from an agreement between U.S. and Chinese negotiators targets illicit activities of North Korean diplomats believed to be abusing their immunity privileges. It also tightens scrutiny on transfers of bulk cash and further restricts travel.

South Korea's ambassador to the United Nations, Kim Sook, told VOA the full Security Council will make a decision soon and his government, at the moment, is satisfied with the language contained in the draft.

Diplomats from several countries say the enhanced U.N. sanctions include mandatory inspections of vessels entering or leaving North Korean waters suspected of carrying prohibited items, including luxury goods such as jewelry and automobiles.

The draft also calls for additional "significant measures" in the event of further North Korean launches or nuclear tests.

Some critics contend sanctions, until now, have been largely ineffective in preventing North Korea from developing ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.

Youmi Kim in the VOA Seoul Bureau and Victor Beattie in Washington contributed to this report.

Steve Herman

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

You May Like

Photogallery Strong Words Start, May End, S. African Xenophobic Attacks

President Jacob Zuma publicly condemned rise in attacks on foreign nationals but critics say leadership has been less than welcoming to foreign residents More

Video Family Waits to Hear Charges Against Reporter Jailed in Iran

Reports in Iran say Jason Rezaian has been charged with espionage, but brother tells VOA indictment has not been made public More

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Action to Stabilize Libya

Amnesty International says multinational concerted humanitarian effort must be enacted to address crisis; decrepit boats continue to bring thousands of new arrivals daily More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
March 06, 2013 11:03 AM
These continuous exchanges of agressive words make no sense; the NKorean establishment is of an unstable mind set, that has a very strange view of the World. The SKorean establishment should keep its cool, stay alert, prepare for the worst, and let the unstable people vent. The escalation on word gamemanship is not constructive; it will just escalate to an actual confrontation(s), given the nature of the people involved.

My prediction is that the escalating war exchange of words has reached near the tipping point, and the dictatorship is pushing itself into a corner, from which it will actually take some physical action, to extradicate itself and save face.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs