Military tensions and international worries are growing as North Korea and South Korea exchanged new threats on Friday just a day after a shots were fired across the demilitarized zone along the border that separates the two countries.
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State media reported on Friday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared his frontline troops were now in a "quasi-state of war" with South Korea as he ordered them to prepare for battle if leaders in Seoul refused to remove large loudspeakers set up along the border which blast pro-South Korean messages.
"The Korean People's Army (KPA) front-line large combined units entered into a wartime state all at once, fully armed to launch surprise operations, and wound up their preparedness for action," the North's Korean Central News Agency said in an English-language dispatch.
The young North Korean leader, while speaking to his Central Military Commission (CMC), also said his troops would be in a "fully armed state of war” beginning at 5 pm on Friday, according to the KCNA.
In response to the report of those comments, South Korea’s defense minister, Han Minkoo warned North Korea it would face "searing" consequences if it instigated further military actions.
"This time, we’ll cut off a vicious circle of North Korean provocation,” Minkoo warned, according to the Associated Press.
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According to the Los Angeles Times:
On Thursday, North Korea fired a projectile at a South Korean loudspeaker that was broadcasting anti-Pyongyang messages over the border, a no-man’s land that has divided the two countries since 1953. South Korea retaliated by firing “dozens” of 155-millimeter artillery shells at the source of the attack, according to a statement from the South Korean Defense Ministry. Neither side has reported injuries or damage.
North Korea also warned Seoul on Friday that it would take “military action” if the South did not halt the broadcasts by 5 p.m. Saturday, according to South Korean media.
South Korea has ordered evacuations in villages close to the border. The Associated Press reported that the nation has put its military on top alert and vowed to sternly deal with any North Korean provocations.
In a message sent to the North, the Ministry of National Defense said: “South Korea will strongly retaliate against any kind of North Korean attacks and the North will have to take all the responsibility for such ... actions.”