North Korean media lashed out against South Korean President Park on Sunday evening, as marathon inter-Korean talks to resolve tensions continue at the border village of Panmunjom without resolution.
Park Geun-hye is a “confrontational maniac” and her administration is “busying itself” with inventing a pretext for war with North Korea, an article published late on Sunday by state media outlet the Korea Central News Agency said.
The article, which was published after inter-Korean talks to defuse tensions had restarted at Panmunjom, also condemned Park’s previous offers of dialogue and warned North Korean forces would “blow up the citadel of aggressors” in the event of a war.
The report followed other sternly worded articles published Sunday by KCNA, which accused the U.S. of “plotting to make a preemptive attack” on the north and warned of the force of a potential North Korean response.
And as inter-Korean talks to resolve the situation continued late into the evening Korean time, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported that over 50 North Korean submarines had left their bases.
“Seventy percent of North Korea’s submarines left their bases, and their locations are not confirmed,” a South Korean military official told reporters, adding that Pyongyang had also doubled the number of artillery units along the border.
“It’s a very serious situation,” the official told Yonhap, saying it represents North Korea’s “dual attitude.”
The current disposition of the North’s submarine fleet, however, may not be as simple as 70 percent being deployed as has been reported, says John Grisafi, NK News director of intelligence.
“It doesn’t seem that the entirety of North Korea’s fleet of 70 or so submarines is ever visible at once. Many could easily be hidden from view, especially the midget submarines which comprise the majority of the fleet,” said Grisafi. “The most I can count at any given time on imagery is about 40.”
That said, given the report of only 20 being visible at the moment, the North likely has intentionally either sent out a number of submarines or at least hidden them from view – either submerging or otherwise concealing them – at or near their bases.
“This could be an intentional move by Pyongyang to create the perception of yet another potential threat to keep tensions high and remind the South of the North’s various capabilities. But the North’s end goal is likely no more than creating this perception, not an actual preparation for war.”
The day before eight South Korean and U.S. fighter jets conducted a simulated bombing exercise in what Yonhap described as a “show of force against North Korea’s threats of additional military action.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. ambassador to South Korea, Mark Lippert, was reported Sunday to have cut short a vacation in recognition of the serious nature of the situation.
Little information has been shared with media about the ongoing talks between the two Koreas.
Sunday’s talks are continuing after talks ended at 4.15AM Saturday without resolution.
The talks are being led by Hwang Pyong So, Pyongyang’s senior military political officer and South Korean National Security Adviser Kim Kwan-jin. Also present are South Korean Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo and his DPRK counterpart, Kim Yang Gon.
The talks represented the first high-level contact between the two Koreas since a surprise meeting meeting between Hwang and Kim in October last year, which took place at the end of the Incheon Asian games.
Prior to the talks, North Korean state news outlet the Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) notably referred to South Korea by its official name – the Republic of Korea – for the first time since the current conservative party begun its administration in Seoul.
Main picture: Korea.net
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