Around Asia: War of words escalates between Koreas

North Korea threatened to turn South Korea’s presidential office into a “sea of fire” if Seoul again dares to provoke the regime.

The belligerent country’s latest rhetoric came days ahead of the three year anniversary of the North’s shelling of a South Korean island near the border in the Yellow Sea. South Korea commemorated the attack with an intensive military drill on and around the island.

“Three years ago the baptism of retaliatory fire was limited to Yeonpyeong, but next time the presidential Blue House and all headquarters of the puppet refime will be targeted,” the North Korean People’s Army said in a statement.

“If the South recklessly provokes us again, the sea of fire at Yeonpyeon will turn into a sea of fire at the Blue House,” the statement read.

North Korea bombarded the Yeonpyeong island after warning the South against conducting a live gunfire drill in what the North claims as territorial waters. The attack left four people dead—two South Korean marines and two civilians—in the most serious clash between the two nations since the 1950–53 Korean War.

Most residents fled to the mainland after the attacks but have since returned home. South Korea has also built new fortifications on the island, increased the number of troops and deployed new weapons including missiles, anti-battery radars and helicopters.

The North insisted that it was the South that fired first into its territory. “The South is trying to sway public opinion and distort the real reason why the shelling took place,” the statement said.

North Korea’s military threatened to attack the island during the anniversary of the shelling last year, saying it regret not sending Yeonpyeong “to the bottom of the sea.” It added it would not miss the opportunity if the South Korean “warmongers” provoked the nuclear-armed nation.

By Maesie Bertumen

Image of Korean DMZ: taylorsloan/Flickr

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