South Korea warned North Korea of bold and decisive retaliation if North Korea follows through on its recent threats to resume the Korean War.
“We have all preparations in place for strong and decisive punishment, not only against the source of the aggression and its support forces but also the commanding element,” South Korean Major General Kim Yong-hyun said in a press conference.
A top North Korean general appeared on state television yesterday threatening military action against the US and South Korea due to military drills being waged by the two nations. Tensions have risen on the peninsula since North Korea’s youthful leader Kim Jong Un issued a long-range rocket test in December. North Korea followed up with its third nuclear test in February.
North Korea’s action upset China, the country’s one major diplomatic ally. The US and China agreed to push severe UN sanctions upon the already isolated nation. The sanctions are due to be formally announced tomorrow.
North Korea’s threats often ring hollow, but in 2010 the country sank a South Korean naval vessel and shelled a South Korean island, together resulting in the deaths of both military personnel and civilians.
South Korean recently elected President Park Geun-hye, the country’s first female president, in December. Her father was Park Chung-hee, who served as the president of South Korea from 1963 to 1979. The recent threats from North Korea arrive early in President Park’s 5-year term.
The Korean War lasted from 1950 to 1953 and was fought by South Korea, supported by the UN and predominantly US troops, and North Korea, supported by the People’s Republic of China. The fighting ended when an armistice agreement was signed that restored the border at the 38th Parallel. No peace treaty was ever signed, and a heavily armed Demilitarized Zone divides the two nations to this day.
The South Korean capital of Seoul is not far from the border with North Korea and is expected to be quickly decimated were a full-scale conflict to break out between the two nations. Seoul is one of the world’s fastest growing financial centers and currently the fourth largest metropolitan economy in the world.
In contrast, North Korea is an impoverished country whose economy has shrunk over the past couple of decades. North Korea has faced sanctions from the US for most of its existence. In spite of this, the country now has enough nuclear material for half a dozen warheads and is developing a long-range missile.
Around 200,000 South Korean soldiers and 10,000 US troops are planned to engage in joint exercises until the end of April.