North Korea's military says it is preparing for action against the South, days after its leader's sister made threats against Seoul. Pyongyang has said it would convert a demilitarized zone "into a fortress."
North Korea's army is "getting fully ready" to take military action against South Korea if activists continue their campaign of sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets into North Korea, state media reported Tuesday.
In the latest warning from the North, the General Staff of the Korean People's Army (KPD) said it has been studying an "action plan" to reenter zones that were demilitarized in 2018, threatening to "turn the front line into a fortress."
"Our army will rapidly and thoroughly implement any decisions and orders of the Party and government," the KPA said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.
Threats to break peace pact
The scope of the actions the military was considering against the South was not immediately clear. However, the North has threatened to break an inter-Korean military agreement that was signed in 2018 with the aim of reducing tensions at the border.
The pact ushered in the establishment of demilitarized border buffers between the nations. In an act of symbolism, they also dismantled some front-line guard posts.
The latest statement implies Pyongyang would consider disregarding the buffer zones and rebuilding said posts.
The country's military also said it would open unspecified areas near the borders in order that North Korea could carry out "large-scale leaflet scattering" in South Korea, in apparent retaliation against defectors and activists who have floated anti-North Korea propaganda over the border.
Propaganda message in a bottle
Responding to the threat, the South Korean defense ministry called for Pyongyang to honor the 2018 agreement.
"We're taking the situation seriously," defense ministry spokeswoman Choi Hyun-soo said in a briefing. "Our military is maintaining readiness posture to be able to respond to any situation."
Defector-led groups have taken to regularly sending flyers along with food, money, mini radios, and USB sticks containing South Korean dramas and news into North Korea by way of balloon or bottles thrown into the river. The leaflets criticize North Korea's human rights abuses and nuclear ambitions.
Experts have said the North could be manufacturing a crisis with South Korea while nuclear negotiations with the US are at a standstill.
kp/aw (AP, AFP, Reuters)