January 25, 2010 09:25
North Korea on Sunday slammed South Korean Defense Minister Kim Tae-young over recent remarks that Seoul would launch a preemptive strike if there are clear signs of a planned nuclear attack by the North. "We regard the scenario for a preemptive strike as an open declaration of war against us," the North Korean military's General Staff said in a statement. The North will "take resolute military action and blow up major targets, including the command center" in the South, it added.
"Violent talk of a preemptive strike" by the South Korean minister "is creating an ominous situation on the Korean Peninsula where nobody knows when the disaster of the Korean War will be repeated," the statement said.
At the same time, North Korean agencies involved in economic cooperation with South Korea continue to ask South Korean NGOs for aid. One of them, the National Economic Cooperation Federation in December asked the Seoul chapter of the evangelical charity World Vision for 300 tons of flour and 200 tons of rice.
In the past, all the North had to do was wait until the South offered aid, but with a conservative government in Seoul, North Korean organization have had to make several phone calls through offices in Dandong. One NGO staffer said Pyongyang "keeps asking what the progress is."
A Unification Ministry official said the North has been issuing visit visas to South Korean NGOs since the beginning of this year, which would usually only be forthcoming after Kim Jong-il's birthday on Feb. 16.
One security official said the simultaneous threats and pleas are issued depending whether the North stands to profit.
North Korea is apparently determined to hit back at anything it sees as a threat to the regime but at the same time it appears to be trying to improve inter-Korean relations if that will result in more aid.
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