World News

    North Korea Apparently Severs Hotline with South

    South Korean Army soldiers sit on their K-9 self-propelled artillery vehicle during an exercise against possible attacks by North Korea near the border village of Panmunjom in Paju, South Korea, March 11, 2013.
    South Korean Army soldiers sit on their K-9 self-propelled artillery vehicle during an exercise against possible attacks by North Korea near the border village of Panmunjom in Paju, South Korea, March 11, 2013.
    South Korean officials say Pyongyang seems to have made good on a threat to sever the hotline at the Panmunjom truce village as South Korea and the United States commence a joint military exercise Monday.  The North is responding to the exercise by claiming it will abrogate the 1953 Armistice Agreement and threatening a preemptive nuclear strike.

    As more than 13,000 American and South Korean military personnel began the Key Resolve annual joint drill, no one on the northern side of the de-militarized zone answered the routine daily 9 am hotline telephone call from the South.

    The two sides have a protocol of phone contact twice daily.

     A Unification Ministry spokesman says South Korea did not bother to try again to make the regular 4 p.m. call Monday.

    Last week, North Korea announced it was severing the communications link, established in 1971.

    South Korean officials say this is the sixth time the North has cut the line, the most recent occasion in 2010.

    South Korean Defense Ministry officials say the North's senior military officer, Vice Marshal Hyong Yong Chol, made an inspection visit to Panmunjom Saturday evening.

    Kim Min-seok is a spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense in Seoul. Kim says North Korea continues to make provocative threats, but the South's military is ready to strike back against any aggression.

    In Pyongyang, the Monday edition of the worker's party newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, declares the armistice agreement “completely nullified from today.”

    The newspaper also published a long, bellicose poem expressing that “Right now is the time to press our missile launch button targeting Washington.”

    On five previous occasions - 1994, 1996, 2003, 2006 and 2009 - the North has declared it would abrogate the 1953 armistice.

    Military Hotline

    -Used to coordinate movement of people for Kaesong industrial complex
    -Kaesong is operated in the North with South Korean money
    -North Korea cut the line in 2009, leaving South Korean workers briefly stranded in Kaesong

    Red Cross Hotline

    -Established in 1971
    -North and South Korea would make contact two times a day
    -North Korea has cut the line several times, most recently in March 2013

    U.S. officials contend the military truce cannot be modified without the consent of the other signatories who led the opposing United Nations and Chinese forces.

    Pyongyang has called last week's U.N. Security Council resolution strengthening sanctions against North Korea “an act of war.” The body toughened sanctions to punish Pyongyang for violating previous U.N. resolutions by conducting its third nuclear test.

    In recent days, North Korean officials have also been quoted expressing the view that the Key Resolve drill is a pretext to hit the North with nuclear weapons, and thus, it must respond with a preemptive nuclear strike of its own on the United States.

    Analysts point out North Korea has no proven capability to deploy a nuclear-tipped inter-continental ballistic missile across the Pacific. But they say it would not be a surprise if Pyongyang launches some short-range rockets or attempts a small scale provocation in disputed waters in the Yellow Sea.  In 2010, the North rained artillery shells on a South Korean frontier island.

    However, with the United States and South Korea presently displaying a show of force on and around the peninsula during the annual war exercise, some analysts predict that such a response by the North likely will not occur until after the war games end next month.

    • South Korean Army soldiers patrol along a barbed-wire fence near the border village of Panmunjom in Paju, South Korea, March 11, 2013.
    • South Korean Army soldiers work on their K-9 self-propelled artillery vehicles during an exercise near the border village of Panmunjom in Paju, South Korea, March 11, 2013.
    • South Korean Army soldiers patrol along a barbed-wire fence near the border village of Panmunjom in Paju, South Korea, March 11, 2013.
    • South Korean protesters shout slogans during a rally denouncing the annual joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States, near the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, March 11, 2013.
    • A South Korean college student weeps as she reads statements during a press conference denouncing the annual joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States, near the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, March 10, 2013.

    South Korean military officials, speaking to VOA on condition they not be identified, deny domestic media reports that the military exercise includes American long-range bombers, stealth fighter jets and an aircraft carrier.

    The U.S. Navy's 7th fleet referred questions about the carrier's reported participation to the U.S. military's command in South Korea.

    U.S. Forces Korea had no immediate comment on the South Korean media reports.

    South Korea's semi-official Yonhap news agency says the country's joint chiefs of staff are playing a leading role in conducting the exercise as Seoul prepares to take control from the United States in 2015 wartime operational control of the their military forces here.

    Steve Herman

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

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: James Russo from: NJ
    March 11, 2013 2:24 PM
    everyone is telling us that all this blaster should not alarm us... but I happen to remember the 73 "yom kipper" war... were the Arabs attacked Israel on multiple fronts...

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora