North Korea on Friday threatened to attack South Korea without any notice via a fax sent to South Korea’s National Security Council, the Ministry of Defence said in Seoul.
The fax made reference to recent demonstrations in which effigies of Kim Jong Un were burnt in Seoul on the anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s death, an issue that often aggravates the North.
South Korea reacted firmly to Pyongyang’s warning that it would “mercilessly” attack “without notice” by sending a fax back that promised “resolute punishment” to any attack initiated by the North.
Later, South Korea’s unification minister denounced the attack, calling on North Korea to stop making threats against Seoul.
“North Korea should take the attitude to resolve inter-Korean issues in a step by step manner through dialogue,” Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae said in comments carried on Friday by South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.
Dr. Nicolas Levi, a North Korea expert that specializes in understanding the North Korean leadership, told NK News that Pyongyang has a history of escalating tensions around Christmas.
“This is nothing new and I’d point out that when the situation is becoming stable, the DPRK is threatening the South Korean partner. I also believe that they are threatening South Korea more often than what we know.”
On Monday it emerged that thousands of propaganda leaflets from North Korea had been found at a beach in South Korea’s Baengnyeong Island.
One leaflet titled “The final notice to marine brigade 6” said: “Marine brigade 6 is the first target we have to destroy. We are fully ready to aim and attack with powerful weapons.”
Another leaflet titled “Escaping is the only way to survive” said, “Baengnyeong Island will become a huge grave. If you don’t want to be a ghost in a hell fire, you better decide. We can give you only one suggestion. Run.”
After Jang Song Thaek’s execution observers warned that North Korea might initiate a provocation against South Korea to divert attention from ongoing leadership problems.
South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye warned after Jang’s arrest that inter-Korean relations could destabilize following the imposition of a “reign of terror” by Kim Jong Un.
“North Korea is currently engaged in a reign of terror while carrying out massive purges in order to consolidate Kim Jong Un’s power. The South-North relations could become more unstable in the future,” Park said in comments broadcast on South Korean television last week.
“The situation in Northeast Asia and the Korean Peninsula is rapidly changing. We are in a situation where we cannot lower our guard against North Korean threats and changes in its circumstances,” Park warned.
Picture: Eric Lafforgue