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North Korea Threatens South’s Defense Minister Nominee

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un
This picture, taken by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) being greeted by soldiers as he inspects Mu Islet Hero Defence Detachment near South Korea's Taeyonphyong Island in South Hwanghae province. Source: KCNA via KNS/AFP via Getty Images

North Korea threatened to target the South Korean defense minister nominee after he vowed to respond to attack by the North by toppling the regime.

A retired general and former deputy commander of the U.S.- South Korea Combined Forces, Kim Byung Kwan will be the “first target in the great war for national reunification” should he continue his criticisms, a spokesman for the North Korea-based Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said in a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency March 9.

Kim said March 8 that South Korea will respond to an artillery attack from North Korea by toppling the regime, Yonhap News reported, citing comments he made during his parliamentary confirmation hearing. South Korea’s won fell 0.9% to 1,100.35 against the dollar as of 9:57 a.m. Seoul time, the biggest intraday decline since January 28.

The threats by North Korea follow the unanimous approval of tougher sanctions by the United Nations Security Council against the totalitarian state for its nuclear detonation last month. Tension on the peninsula escalated after North Korea said in the past week that it will scrap the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War and cancel a cross-border hot line.

South Korean and U.S. military forces will hold the annual Key Resolve maneuvers from today until March 21. South Korea added two groups and three individuals to its North Korea sanctions list, barring them from financial transactions with South Korean entities, the finance ministry said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.

Armed Forces

North Korea said units of its armed forces rallied in three provinces March 9, according to a statement carried by KCNA. Armed forces held rallies in two provinces yesterday, another KCNA statement said. Regional heads of the Workers’ Party of Korea said it is the “final conclusion and will” of North Korea to “settle accounts with the U.S.,” according to the statement.

The expanded UN measures target “illicit” actions by North Korean diplomats and bulk transfers of cash. The sanctions also restrict North Korea’s ability to sell military technology as a way of raising cash.

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