U.S. denounces North Korea’s ‘bellicose rhetoric’ as Kim Jong-un’s regime issues ‘final warning’

U.S. denounces North Korea’s ‘bellicose rhetoric’ as Kim Jong-un’s regime issues ‘final warning’

By  on April 1, 2013
northkorea

North Korea threatened March 30 to shut a jointly run industrial zone in its border city of Gaeseong in response to flights over the south by U.S. stealth bombers. Tensions have risen since North Korea detonated a nuclear device in February, defying global sanctions.

Tensions last rose to this level between the two sides in 2010, following the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan, which killed 46 sailors, and North Korea’s shelling eight months later of a South Korean border island, in which four people died.

“Every issue raised between the North and South will be dealt with in a war-time manner,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency said March 30, citing what it called a special statement. U.S. stealth bomber flights over South Korea this week are “unacceptable” and North Korea’s statement is a “final warning” to the U.S. and its allies, KCNA said

The U.S. denounced North Korea for its “long history of bellicose rhetoric” after the totalitarian state said a state of war exists with neighboring South Korea, and threatened to close a joint industrial zone.

“We take these threats seriously and remain in close contact with our South Korean allies,” White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in an e-mailed statement on March 30. “But we would also note that North Korea has a long history of bellicose rhetoric and threats” and the latest statement “follows that familiar pattern.”

North Korea threatened March 30 to shut a jointly run industrial zone in its border city of Gaeseong in response to flights over the south by U.S. stealth bombers. Tensions have risen since North Korea detonated a nuclear device in February, defying global sanctions.

“It seems there are no more cards left for North to pressure South now, and Gaeseong seems to be the last resort,” Yang Moo Jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, said by phone yesterday. “Chances of them closing it are very slim, almost impossible.”

About 200,000 North Koreans, including workers and their families, depend on the Gaeseong industrial zone for income, Yang said.

North Korea, with an economy of about $29 billion according to the latest estimate by the South’s central bank, generates about $100 million profit annually from the joint project, Yang said. The South’s economy, some 38 times larger, makes quadruple that amount, according to Yang.

Two calls to China’s Foreign Ministry seeking comment on the North Korean statement went unanswered outside business hours. Kim’s country relies on its neighbor for diplomatic and economic support.

Lee Jin-man / The Associated Press

Lee Jin-man / The Associated PressVisitors look at a giant relief map of Korean Peninsular at the unification observation post near the border village of Panmunjom, that has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War, in Paju, north of Seoul, South Korea.

‘Cooler Heads’

HONG JIN-HWAN/AFP/Getty Images

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