N. Korea’s Kim Orders High Alert During DMZ Visit - the China Post
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered troops along the heavily armed border with rival South Korea to be on high alert during a visit to the Demilitarized Zone, state media reported Sunday.
Kim’s visit to Panmunjom village, his first reported trip there since the December death of his father, Kim Jong Il, comes amid escalating militaristic rhetoric aimed at U.S. ally South Korea just days after Washington and Pyongyang agreed to a nuclear deal after years of deadlock.
Recent North Korean threats, including vows of a “sacred war” against Seoul over U.S.-South Korean military drills, appear to be aimed at a domestic audience, analysts say, and could be an effort to bolster Kim Jong Un’s credentials as a military leader after showing off his diplomatic skills on the U.S. nuclear deal.
Still, the rhetoric keeps the region on edge and complicates diplomatic efforts to settle the standoff over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. Washington has said that better inter-Korean ties are crucial for diplomacy to succeed. North Korea has also acted on its threats in the past. Fifty South Koreans died in violence blamed on North Korea in 2010, leading to fears of a broader conflict.
On Sunday, tens of thousands of North Koreans rallied in Pyongyang, vowing to topple South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who ended a no-strings-attached aid policy to the North when he took power in 2008, instead linking assistance to nuclear disarmament.
In rhetoric typical of the North, military chief Ri Yong Ho warned in a speech at Pyongyang’s main Kim Il Sung Square that the North Korean army would “sweep out” the South Korean traitors using their guns, according to footage from North Korea’s state TV.
A crowd of soldiers and citizens later paraded through the plaza, pumping their fists and chanting, “Let’s kill Lee Myung-bak by tearing him to pieces.”
The North’s foreign ministry said on Sunday the North’s people were “full of hatred resentment” at the South’s leader amid Seoul’s ongoing joint military exercises with the U.S., which it says are war games for an invasion.
The state-run KCNA said more than 1.7 million young North Korean men have volunteered to join the army since Friday in a bid for “all-people revenge on South Korean human scum.”