North Korea has urged foreigners residing in South Korea to consider evacuating the area in case of war. Meanwhile, operations at the joint industrial zone Kaesong remained suspended amid mounting tensions.
North Korea's Asia-Pacific Peace Committee issued a warning to South Korea's foreign residents on Tuesday that they should leave amid escalating tensions on the peninsula.
"In the event of war, we don't want foreigners living in South Korea to get hurt," North Korea's KCNA news agency reported on Tuesday.
The warning followed a similar warning issued last week, urging embassies in North Korea to send their employees to a safer area. Thus far, most foreign diplomats have remained in Pyongyang.
Tensions on the Korean peninsula have been escalating since late March, when North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un ended the ceasefire with Seoul and threatened to launch a war against it and the United States.
While some, including South Korea, initially dismissed the belligerent rhetoric as posturing, North Korea's persistence has worried international leaders that it might order a nuclear strike.
Despite the doubt that North Korea has the military capability to execute its threats, South Korea and the United States have taken precautions to protect their populations. South Korean President Park Geun-hye has vowed to order a military strike in the face of an imminent threat from the North. The United States has, for its part, deployed aerial defense to the region, including to its Pacific island territory Guam.
Japan has also taken steps to protect itself. On Tuesday, its military deployed several PAC-3 missile interceptors around Tokyo.
Meanwhile North Korean workers did not report to work at the Kaesong joint industrial zone on Tuesday.
The previous day, Pyongyang had said it would pull out its 53,000 workers at the complex, which is the last remaining major economic link between the rivals and a crucial hard currency source for the impoverished nation.
Pyongyang has been using the shared industrial zone as a pawn in its relations with the South as a way of increasing pressure on Seoul by directly affecting its workers.
South Koreans have been blocked from returning to Kaesong since last week, forcing 13 of the 123 South Korean firms operating in the complex to halt production.
kms/bk (AFP, Reuters, dpa)