South Korean President Park Geun Hye said she will “sternly” deal with any North Korean provocation, hours after the Kim Jong Un regime threatened strikes over propaganda broadcasts in the demilitarized zone.
“North Korea should wake up from the illusion of maintaining its regime with provocations and threats,” she said Saturday in a speech marking the anniversary of liberation from Japan’s colonial rule. “Provocations and threats will only bring isolation and destruction. But if North Korea joins the path of dialogue and cooperation, it will get a chance to develop its economy and improve people’s livelihoods.”
Park renewed her push to build trust with North Korea in her speech, proposing the two governments share the lists of families seeking to be reunited after being separated in the Korean War. No family reunions have taken place between the countries since February last year.
Earlier Saturday, North Korea’s army threatened to strike South Korean loudspeakers blaring propaganda broadcasts over the border. The threat came a day after the National Defense Commission led by Kim denied responsibility for Aug. 4 mine blasts that maimed two South Korean soldiers.
The explosions prompted South Korea to resume front-line broadcasts for the first time since 2004. Defense Minister Han Min Koo told lawmakers on Wednesday that the military was planning to increase loudspeakers delivering propaganda broadcasts in retaliation for the mine explosions.
North Korea contends the mines that exploded were South Korean ones dislodged by rainfall. South Korea and the U.S.-led United Nations Command in Seoul concluded the mines were recently planted, rather than dislodged by rain or shifting soil.
Hundreds of thousands of troops on both sides of the border guard the DMZ that bisects the peninsula, a legacy of the 1950-53 war that ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty. Neither North Korea nor South Korea is a signatory to the Ottawa Treaty that bans the use of anti-personnel mines.
North Korea bombarded a front-line South Korean island in 2010, killing two marines and two civilians. South Korea holds the north responsible for the sinking of one of its warships earlier that year, which killed 46 sailors. North Korea denies torpedoing the Cheonan.