North Korea issues an ultimatum, mobilizes troops

North Korea issued an ultimatum and marshaled troops along its southern border with South Korea on Friday in response to Seoul’s refusal to halt propaganda transmissions directed at the North.

North Korea has given South Korea until 5 p.m. local time on Saturday to discontinue the relays or face war.

Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) stated:  “Pyongyang’s military was not bluffing.”

Propelled by an early August incident where two South Korean infantrymen were seriously injured by a North Korean mine planted along the heavily-defended perimeter at the demilitarized zone (DMZ), South Korea resumed propaganda broadcasts for the first time in over a decade.

North Korea renewed their propaganda campaign aimed at the South on Monday.

On Thursday, North Korea fired artillery shells into South Korea ostensibly as a warning to end the propaganda broadcasts.  South Korea responded with a salvo of 29 retaliatory rounds which neither caused damage nor casualties.

“The North committed ‘cowardly criminal acts,” South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo said. “This time, I will make sure to sever the vicious cycle of North Korea’s provocations.”

Although residents in the area are familiar Kim’s bloviating, the artillery fire, coupled with Pyongyang’s heated rhetoric, prompted South Korean officials to order the evacuation of civilians from their homes and directed them to seek refuge in bomb shelters.

KCNA quoted Mr. Kim as saying:

“The troops should be ‘fully battle ready to launch surprise operations’ while the entire frontline should be placed in a ‘semi-war state.’”

Mr. Kim:  A “surprise” attack is a surprise to no one if publicized to the entire world.

While Pyongyang’s chortling must be taken seriously, it will be awfully difficult for North Korea’s patron, Communist China, a country frequently predisposed to acquit North Korea of its most serious transgressions, to defend Mr. Kim and the paralyzed communist stooges who surround him should North Korea choose war over 11 plastic speakers routinely casting scorn in the North’s direction.

If the dysfunctional dictatorship in North Korea imagines South Korea to be friendless, they had better think again:  This is not the same South Korea Kim’s grandfather, Kim Il-sung, attempted to conquer in 1950.  There are perils to your publicized intent to launch a war:  In its ranks, the Republic of Korea Army consists of roughly 500,000 troops supported by 500 combat-ready aircraft.

Additionally, the United States stations close to 30,000 troops in South Korea and it is unlikely we, even in our risk-averse capital, will allow American combat troops to remain bystanders should a hoard of North Korean troops attempt to traverse the border.

Similarly, the U.S. has troops in nearby Japan along with massive airbases which, if called upon, are able to repel any onslaught and reduce Pyongyang to the rubble of a parking lot.

You do the math.


[Reuters] [Photo courtesy Flickr]