North Korea’s military threatened Friday to strike a South Korean border area where anti-Pyongyang activists plan to launch leaflets from balloons next week. South Korea immediately vowed to retaliate if attacked.
“Merciless military strike by the Western Front will be put into practice without warning” if South Korean activists make a move to fly leaflets on Monday, the North’s military said in a statement in English. It also warned South Korean residents in the border area to evacuate in advance.
In South Korea, Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said at a parliamentary hearing that his troops would “thoroughly annihilate” any base responsible for the strike if the North attacked.
The exchange of strong warnings came as Glyn Davies, the top U.S. envoy for North Korea, met in Seoul with Lim Sung-nam, South Korea’s envoy to stalled six-nation talks on North Korea’s nuclear arms programs .
North Korean defectors and South Korean activists regularly send up balloons carrying leaflets criticizing North Korean leaders. North Korea accuses South Korea of supporting the activity, but Seoul denies it.