In a high-level meeting of the powerful Central Military Commission (CMC) chaired by Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un, North Korea ordered its frontline troops to be fully prepared for war against South Korea. North Korean troops are on war footing from 5:00 p.m. local time Friday. The meeting was held soon after Pyongyang issued an ultimatum to Seoul anti-North Korean propaganda broadcasts by 5:00 p.m. Saturday.
On Thursday, North Korea fired shells into the South, most likely to destroy the loudspeakers broadcasting the anti-Pyongyang propaganda. South Korea responded with heavy artillery shells across the fortified border. According to the state-run KCNA news agency, Kim Jong-Un ordered the frontline and the Korean People’s Army (KPA) to enter a wartime stage.
KCNA quoted Kim Jong-Un as saying that the troops should be “fully battle ready to launch surprise operations” and the frontline be placed in a “semi-war state.” South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said, citing government sources, that North Korea was preparing to fire short-range missiles. The gunfire exchange on Thursday heightened the cross-border tensions to extremely high levels.
Seoul wants North Korea to apologize
It’s nothing new for North Korea to issue threats. But it’s one of those rare instances that Pyongyang has attached a timeline. Kim Jong-Un has given Seoul until 5 p.m. Saturday to stop the propaganda broadcasts or face military action. So, someone has to blink here first. South Korea had begun broadcasting anti-Pyongyang propaganda after two South Korean soldiers were severely wounded in a landmine blast that Seoul blamed on Pyongyang. North Korea has denied any role in the landmine blast.
South Korean Vice Defense Minister Baek Seung-joo told Reuters that the broadcasts would continue unless North Korea took responsibility and apologized for the landmines. The joint South Korea-U.S. military exercises have further infuriated North Korea. South Korea has placed its troops on high alert. During a meeting of the National Security Council in Seoul, President Park Geun-Hye ordered a “stern response” to any provocations.
The United States has stationed about 28,000 military personnel in South Korea, and the Pentagon was closely monitoring the situation.