N. Korea threat­ens to turn South into ‘sea of fire’

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

North Korea on Fri­day threat­ened to turn Seoul into a “sea of fire” un­less South Korean ac­tivists stop the launches of pro­pa­ganda leaflets across the heav­ily for­ti­fied bor­der.

The warn­ing came hours af­ter South Korean po­lice blocked ac­tivists from launch­ing leaflets amid el­e­vated mil­i­tary ten­sions on the di­vided penin­sula.

“The pup­pet forces should not for­get even a mo­ment that the whole of South Korea might turn into a sea of fire due to the fool­hardy leaflet- scat­ter­ing oper­a­tions,” the North warned in a state­ment re­leased through its of­fi­cial Korean Cen­tral News Agency (KCNA).

The state­ment, pub­lished jointly by front- line army units, said South Korea should not test the pa­tience of North Korean sol­diers.

It ac­cused South Korean ac­tivists of hav­ing em­ployed hit-an­drun tac­tics in bor­der ar­eas to send anti-Py­ongyang leaflets into the North more than a dozen times at night in June, July and Au­gust.

Such leaflet launches are “an open dec­la­ra­tion of a war” against North Korea, the state­ment said.

About 100 South Korean po­lice of­fi­cers ear­lier formed hu­man bar­ri­ers to block ve­hi­cles car­ry­ing around 30 ac­tivists to the bor­der town of Paju, from where they had planned to launch helium bal­loons car­ry­ing the leaflets into North Korea.

The pam­phlets crit­i­cized and mocked the North’s rul­ing Kim dy­nasty and con­demned a land­mine at­tack blamed on Py­ongyang that maimed two mem­bers of a South Korean army bor­der pa­trol ear­lier this month.

South Korea vowed the North would pay a “harsh price” for the at­tack and this week re­sumed — af­ter a decade-long break — the broad­cast of pro­pa­ganda mes­sag- es into the North us­ing bat­ter­ies of pow­er­ful loud­speak­ers along the bor­der.

Seoul also an­nounced a se­ries of heavy-weaponry, live-fire mil­i­tary drills with the United States not far from the bor­der.

‘Dec­la­ra­tion of war’

The North on Fri­day de­nied it was be­hind the mine blasts, with the pow­er­ful Na­tional De­fence Com­mis­sion (NDC) say­ing South Korean ac­cu­sa­tions that its sol­diers had sneaked across the bor­der and planted the mines along a known pa­trol route were “ab­surd.”

“If our army re­ally needed to achieve a mil­i­tary pur­pose, we would have used strong firearms, not three mines,” the com­mis­sion said in a state­ment car­ried by KCNA.

The mine blasts came as cross­bor­der ten­sions were al­ready heat­ing up ahead of two-week long South Korea-U.S. wargames that sim­u­late an in­va­sion by North Korea.

On Thurs­day, the North la­beled the an­nual “Ulchi Free­dom” ex­er­cise a “dec­la­ra­tion of war” and warned of its abil­ity to make re­tal­ia­tory strikes against Seoul and the White House.

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