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N. Korea threatens military action against S. Korea

Posted June. 15, 2020 07:45,   

Updated June. 15, 2020 07:45


“I gave an instruction to the arms of the department in charge of the affairs with [the] enemy to decisively carry out the next action,” said Kim Yo Jong, the First Deputy Director of North Korea’s Workers’ Party. This is the first time Pyongyang threatened military action against South Korea after describing its neighbor as an “enemy.” The recent developments have raised concerns that, in the run up to the 20th anniversary of the 15 June Joint Declaration, the inter-Korean relations would revert back to before nuclear talks had begun in 2017.

"Our army will also determine something for cooling down our people's resentment and surely carry out it, I believe," said Kim Yo Jong in a statement released on Saturday, adding there is a broad consensus on the retaliatory measures as well as the judgment that Seoul must pay for what it did. She then went on to say that it is "high time to break with the South Korean authorities” and go beyond issuing statements to taking action. Experts forecast that the North could carry out local attacks in border areas or launch submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM), given that it emphasized the importance of “increased nuclear deterrence” and “the readiness of strategic armed forces” in a meeting of the 7th Central Committee of the Workers’ Party on May 24, at which North Korean leader Kim Jong Un presided.

The South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae convened a National Security Council (NSC) meeting three hours after the statement was published to discuss responses to the threat. The video conference, which lasted for an hour after it began after Sunday midnight, was led by Chung Eui-yong, director of the National Security Office, instead of South Korean President Moon Jae-in. “The current situation on the Korean Peninsula and possible responses were discussed,” said Cheong Wa Dae without giving further details, signifying it still lacks specific countermeasures. The meeting was attended by Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, Unification Minister Kim Yeon-cheol, Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo and National Intelligence Service Director Suh Hoon. Minister Jeong had a separate emergency meeting on Sunday morning. “We understand the gravity of the situation and are monitoring the North Korean military closely,” said the Ministry of National Defense.

Meanwhile, addressing the West Point commencement ceremony held on Saturday, U.S. President Donald Trump said, “It is not the duty of U.S. troops to solve ancient conflicts in faraway lands that many people have never even heard of. We are not the policemen of the world.” Coupled with his recent decision to scale back U.S. troops in Germany, the remarks confirm‎ his intention stay away from global risks outside the United States until the presidential election in November. “It shows issues on the Korean Peninsula will not be of his concern until the presidential election, which might provoke North Korea even more,” said a diplomatic source.

In-Chan Hwang hic@donga.com · Sang-Jun Han alwaysj@donga.com