N.Korea Ratchets Up War Threats Against South

      March 27, 2013 09:07

      North Korea on Tuesday protested against a South Korean plan to strike statues of nation founder Kim Il-sung and his son Kim Jong-il in major cities if the regime launches a provocation.

      The North's military supreme command ordered missile and long-range artillery batteries into "top combat-ready posture." The Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, an agency in charge of operations against the South, pledged to "punish" Cheong Wa Dae and other South Korean agencies and denounced the Chosun Ilbo, which reported the story, as a "puppet."

      On Monday, the North staged a combined army and naval exercise on the coast near Wonsan, Kangwon Province. According to the official KCNA news agency, the North Korean military units staged a landing and anti-landing drill with hovercraft and multiple rocket launchers watched by leader Kim Jong-un.

      South Korean military authorities described the exercise as a "massive national-scale drill."

      Kim has visited military units or observed drills 11 times this month alone, or once every couple of days.

      North Korean soldiers conduct a landing drill in the East Sea on Monday. /Rodong Sinmun

      A South Korean government official speculated, "It's a show of force to prove that the regime is 'serious' about threats to turn Washington and Seoul into a 'sea of fire' and launch a 'preemptive nuclear strike' on the U.S. in protest against UN sanctions and joint South Korea-U.S. drills."

      But others believe Kim is just showing off. "Boys like playing with toy airplanes, toy tanks and toy artillery," another South Korean government official said. "Kim has watched a lot of Hollywood movies and now he's playing war games."

      Chung Young-tae at the Korea Institute for National Unification, said, "Last year, the regime attempted to make young Kim Jong-un look like a grown-up with frequent public appearances with his wife Ri Sol-ju. This year, it seems to be trying to strengthen his masculine image."

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