North Korea has escalated its war of words against the South over what Pyongyang perceives as insults by Seoul, threatening to turn the heated rhetoric into action.
The country’s central television station interrupted programming Monday to read an unusual announcement from a unit of the army’s supreme command. It said the military would take “special actions” that would reduce the government of President Lee Myung-bak and his supporters to ashes in minutes, utilizing “unprecedented peculiar means and methods.”
Some analysts in the South said the unusual language may suggest that Pyongyang could be planning cyber attacks or attacks against unexpected, unusual targets inside South Korea or against South Korean targets abroad.
Pyongyang’s leaders blame the South Korean leader for having insulted the North at a time when the country was mourning its late leader Kim Jong Il, who died in December, and then during celebrations marking the 100th birthday of Kim Il Sung, the North Korean founder and Kim Jong Il’s father.
In Washington Monday, U.S. officials said North Korea needs to understand that the threats will do nothing to ease Pyongyang’s isolation or feed its people. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland urged North Korea’s leadership “to change course” and “put their effort into moving their country into the modern world, into the 21st century.”
North Korea suffered humiliation when its highly promoted April 13 “space launch” failed. Pyongyang said it was trying to place a satellite into orbit. But much of the international community regarded the launch as a provocative ballistic missile test in violation of the U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Last week, South Korea unveiled a missile that it says can quickly strike any target in the North.
An uneasy peace has prevailed on the Korean peninsula since 1953 when an armistice was signed ending three years of devastating warfare. The two Koreas have never signed a peace treaty and have no diplomatic relations.