SEOUL, South Korea >> North Korea made more threats against its enemies Monday, vowing to take unspecified “powerful” measures over a U.S. plan to deploy an advanced missile defense system in South Korea.
The North Korean military statement was filled with the belligerent, over-the-top rhetoric common when Pyongyang sees an external threat. A direct military attack from Pyongyang’s large but impoverished military, which would probably finish the country’s authoritarian leadership after U.S. and South Korean retaliation, is highly unlikely.
North Korea favors covert, surprise attacks such as the 2010 shelling of a South Korean island that killed four people, and Seoul has accused it of conducting a slew of cyberattacks.
The North’s most recent threat, carried in state media, came three days after Seoul and Washington said they were close to determining a location in South Korea for the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, system to better deal with North Korean threats.
The North said it will take an unspecified “physical counter-action” as soon as the THAAD location is announced. The statement also carried one of the North’s favorite, oft-repeated threats: To turn Seoul into a “sea of fire.” It has regularly warned it would do that since 1994. U.S. and South Korean officials say THAAD only targets North Korea, but China and Russia suspect it could also help U.S. radars detect their own missiles.
South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye said Monday she agreed on the U.S. missile deployment because North Korea has openly threatened to launch nuclear and missile attacks on South Korea.
The two Koreas have been divided along the world’s most heavily fortified border since the 1950-53 Korean War. The United States stations about 28,500 soldiers in South Korea.