North Korea ready for a “total war” with Seoul
North Korea on Friday ordered its troops to be ready for a “total war”, to support an ultimatum requiring that Seoul stop propaganda border operations against Pyongyang.
The decision comes at a time when tensions have intensified in the peninsula after a rare exchange of artillery fire between Pyongyang and Seoul, which has placed its army on high alert.
“Our army and people are willing to take the risk of total war, not only to respond or retaliate, but to defend the system that our people have chosen,” said the North Korean foreign minister to official news agency KCNA, according to South Korean Yonhap agency.
“We arrived at the dawn of a war and the situation is irreversible,” insisted the minister.
North Korea’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, An Myong Hun, has told reporters in New York that “if South Korea does not respond to our ultimatum, our military response is inevitable and this reaction will be very strong.”
The ultimatum expires Saturday at 8: 30 pm GMT. Seoul refused to comply.
This kind of bellicose announcement is not a first for a number of the North Korean regime, Kim Jong-Un. Earlier in 2013, the young 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 carte blanche Thursday ultimatum and to projects of “strikes against retaliation and attack all along of the border.”
Seoul claimed that its speakers would continue to broadcast at full volume of border propaganda messages.
“UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Friday urged the parties to refrain from any new measures that might increase tension,” said his spokeswoman, Eri Kaneko.
Former Foreign Minister of South Korea between 2004 and 2006, Ban Ki-moon said he was “deeply worried” about the situation and called Seoul and Pyongyang to dialogue.
According to KCNA, the leader of the communist regime ordered army units of the Korean people (APC) deployed at the heavily militarized border, placing themselves “at war”.
Heads of South Korean staff responded by speaking directly to the PCA, calling to refrain from “any hasty action.”
“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.”
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.”
The last direct attack against the South happened in December 2010, 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.
The situation was already tense before Thursday’s clashes, after the attack on the landmine blamed on Pyongyang for Seoul in which two South Korean soldiers were mutilated earlier this month.
This is the case – Pyongyang denies having played 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.
Washington and the European Union have expressed concern about the situation.