Kim Jong-Un orders troops to be ready for battle: North Korea puts on a war footing

A South Korean soldier installs a barricade at the entrance to a military zone.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un ordered his troops to be ready for battle Friday at the border to support an ultimatum requiring that Seoul cease its propaganda war and the threat of concerted military operations.

This decision comes at a time when tensions have intensified on the peninsula after a rare exchange of artillery fire between Pyongyang and Seoul, which has placed its army on high alert.

Kim Jong-Un is no stranger to this kind of bellicose announcement. In 2013, young North Korean leader had already declared “state of war” with the South.

Technically, the two countries are in conflict for 65 years, since the Korean War (1950-1953) ended with a simple cease-fire that has never been formalized by a peace treaty in due form .

The powerful Central Military Commission (TLC) to North Korea, led by Kim Jong-Un, had given his carte blanche Thursday ultimatum and to projects of “strikes against retaliation and attack all along of the border.”

The ultimatum expires Saturday at 8 h 30 GMT, but Seoul has refused to comply, claiming that its speakers would continue to broadcast at full volume of border propaganda messages.

According to KCNA, the official North Korean agency, the leader of the communist regime ordered army units of the Korean people (APC) deployed at the heavily militarized border, to be placed “in a state of war” as of Friday afternoon.

These troops should be “fully combat ready and launch surprise operations” while the entire front line must be in “a state of semi-war,” declared Kim Jong-Un, quoted by KCNA.

Heads of South Korean staff responded by speaking directly to the PCA. They called to refrain from “any hasty action” and warned that they would not remain idly in case of further provocation.

“We have seen this many times, but that does not mean it is not dangerous,” said Yoo Ho Seo, professor of North Korean studies at Korea University in Seoul. “There is a real possibility that this confrontation will lead to an armed confrontation species.”

The South Koreans are accustomed to the aggressive rhetoric of North Korea and went about as usual about their business.

Dressed in military uniform, the South Korean President Park Geun-Hye spoke before a group of senior army commanders to tell them that “no provocation by North Korea would be tolerated,” according to images broadcast by South Korean television.

In December 2010, the last direct attack against the South, when North Korea bombarded the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong, killing two soldiers and two South Korean civilians. Seoul responded by firing shells into North Korean positions, which had raised fears of widespread conflict.

Seoul accused Pyongyang of having caused the exchange Thursday by pulling several shells in the direction of one of its border loudspeakers. Seoul responded by firing “tens” of artillery shells 155 mm.

Almost all projectiles fired by both sides crashed in their respective part of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), which is spread over two kilometers on both sides of the border itself.

Direct border exchanges of fire are extremely rare, mainly because of the dangers would be a sudden escalation, analysts say.

The situation was already tense before Thursday’s clashes after the landmine attack blamed on Pyongyang for Seoul in which two South Korean soldiers were mutilated earlier this month.

It is this case, in which Pyongyang denies any role that prompted Seoul to resume its border propaganda war after 11 years of silence.

The South Korean Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, said that access to the inter-Korean Kaesong industrial zone, located on the North Korean side of the border, would be limited to some South Koreans.

Kaesong employs approximately 53,000 North Koreans in 120 South Korean manufacturing companies and this announcement looks like a covert threat to completely close the industrial zone, valuable source of foreign currency for the North.

South Korean coast guard said that fishermen in border islands were ordered to stay docked for an indeterminate time.

Washington and the UN expressed concern about the situation.

“We remain committed to the defense of our ally,” South Korean and “continue to monitor the situation,” said the Pentagon.

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