North Korea has rejected South Korean calls for an apology over the sinking of a warship, calling it an “intolerable mockery”. The move comes as South Korea prepares to mark five years since the Cheonan went down on 26 March 2010 with the loss of 46 lives.
Seoul says Pyongyang torpedoed the ship, but North Korea rejects this. It described the theory that North Korea sank the ship as “fictitious”.
The warship went down off an island near the disputed inter-Korean western maritime border. An investigation into the disaster involving South Korean and international experts found that a North Korean torpedo sank the ship. Pyongyang does not accept this and offered at the time to conduct its own investigation, an offer that was turned down.
Since then, ties between the two nations – which remain technically at war – have remained icy. There has also been no movement since 2009 on six-nation talks aimed at ending North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
Tensions are currently high on the peninsula because annual US-South Korea joint military drills are under way. The exercises always anger North Korea.
Pyongyang has also threatened to respond with “firepower” to South Korean activists who want to use balloons to fly propaganda leaflets and DVDs of The Interview – a film depicting a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un – across the inter-Korean border.