N. Korea Threatens Military Action

North Korean military authorities on Thursday rejected South Korea's request to stop creating tension in the inter-Korean relations and threatened “military action" of its own.

In a telephone message sent to the South around 9:25 a.m. Thursday, Gen. Kim Young-chol, the North's chief delegate to inter-Korean military talks, dismissed a South Korean explanation of remarks by a senior official the North interpreted as a threat of “preemptive strikes” as “nothing but an excuse. We are soon going to start taking the steps we laid out in an earlier message,” he said.

In its first message on March 29, North Korea threatened to suspend all inter-Korean talks and contacts and completely ban all South Korean government officials, including military officers, from traveling across the military demarcation line unless South Korea withdraws and apologizes for the remarks made by Gen. Kim Tae-young, the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in reply to a lawmaker in his confirmation hearing on March 26.

Observers say nobody can rule out that North Korea will take additional military action, considering that it has already fired some short-range missiles into the West Sea to vent its anger. This week the official North Korean media also denounced President Lee Myung-bak as a “traitor” for changing the course of North Korea policies.

A Defense Ministry official said the South will send no further telephone message to the North. “We have already substantially and clearly explained our position to the North,” he added.

(englishnews@chosun.com )

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english.chosun.com  (Posted 4/5/08)