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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs