North Korea is warning South Korea of a pre-emptive strike that will turn the
South into "debris," if Seoul does not stop what the North calls "a policy of
confrontation." As VOA's Seoul Correspondent Kurt Achin reports, the North's
anger revolves mainly around leaflets that have been launched into the North
recently by human rights groups.
North Korea threatened military force against
South Korea, Tuesday, a day after South Korean civic groups sent tens of
thousands of leaflets into the North by balloon.
A commentary carried by
North Korea's official news agency warned of an "advanced pre-emptive strike of
our own style" that "will reduce everything... to debris, not just setting it on
fire." That wording echoes threats from North Korea in previous years to turn
the South Korean capital into a "sea of fire."
North Korea has often
denounced the administration of conservative South Korean President Lee
Myung-bak as a "gang of traitors" - but Tuesday's statement uses some of the
most explicit military-themed language since Mr. Lee took office in January. The
commentary warns North Korea's attack would "turn out to be a just war... to
build an independent reunified state."
A day earlier, the North
threatened to suspend a joint North-South industrial project, if Seoul did not
prevent the ongoing launches of leaflets into the North by civic groups. That
same day, human rights activists launched some 40,000 leaflets by helium balloon
from waters east of the Korean Peninsula.
The leaflets are sharply
critical of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and include information from recent
reports that he may be recovering from a stroke.
South Korean Unification
Ministry Spokesman Kim Ho-nyoun says officials are trying to persuade the groups
behind the leaflet launches to hold off.
He says the government is asking
the human rights groups for their help in easing tension. However, he says that
scattering the leaflets is reasonable when it is done in a legal manner -- and
that South Korea will act according to the law.
Park Sang-hak is the
president of the Seoul-based North Korea Freedom Coalition and a key organizing
figure of the balloon launches.
He says he will be meeting this week with
officials from South Korea's presidential Blue House. However, he says he has no
intention of stopping the balloon launches, which he says are legal.