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(2nd LD) N. Korea steps up war rhetoric against S. Korea over alleged slander

2012-03-04 16:53

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     SEOUL, March 4 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has ordered a front-line military unit to be on alert as Pyongyang renewed threats Sunday to stage a sacred war against South Korea for defaming the dignity of its supreme leadership.

   The North has accused a South Korean army unit in the western port of Incheon of writing aggressive defamatory words above and below portraits of the North's leader Kim Jong-un and his late father, former leader Kim Jong-il.

   The South Korean military unit in Incheon reportedly posted photos of the two Kims inside a building with accompanying text that translates as, "Let's Kill Kim Jong-un."

   North Korea's military and its people "will mete out a merciless punishment of their own style" to South Korea for committing what it considers the gravest provocation, North Korea's Foreign Ministry said in an English-language statement carried by the North's Korean Central News Agency.

   The North has long bristled at any outside criticism of its leader and has made similar threats against the South over the past several months, although no actual attack has occurred.

   North Korea's late founder Kim Il-sung and his late son, former leader Kim Jong-il, are the subjects of a massive cult of personality. The North has also stepped up state propaganda campaigns to similarly idolize Kim Jong-un, who inherited the leadership mantle upon the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, in December of last year.

   North Korea will make neither the slightest compromise nor connivance over any issue related to the dignity of its supreme leadership, North Korea's main Rodong Sinmun newspaper said in an article that described the country's current and former leaders as the suns of all Koreans' destiny.

   The latest warning came two days after the North's supreme military command said its sacred war with a primary emphasis on physical attack would continue until all acts that hurt the dignity of the North's supreme leadership end.

   South Korea's Defense Ministry has dismissed the North's warning as "not worthy of a response," noting Seoul does not protest the North's frequent slandering of South Korean leaders.

   North Korea has frequently denounced South Korea's conservative President Lee Myung-bak as a "traitor" for having aggravated inter-Korean ties.

   On Sunday, the North called Lee "human scum" as some 150,000 civilians and military personnel rallied in Pyongyang's Kim Il-sung Square and vowed to retaliate against South Korea for the defamation.

   "The venue is filled with crowds in the spirit of annihilating enemies to wipe out the traitor Lee and military warmaniacs," the KCNA said in a dispatch.

   Some participants held signs that read "merciless punishment" or "thousand-fold revenge," according to footage shown on North Korea's state television.

   Meanwhile, North Korea's new leader Kim Jong-un has toured the border village of Panmunjom as tensions rise over South Korea's current joint military exercises with the U.S., which Pyongyang denounces as rehearsals for a northward invasion.

   South Korea and the U.S. regularly hold military exercises to bolster their readiness against a possible North Korean provocation. Seoul and Washington say the exercises are defensive in nature.

   Kim told "the soldiers on the outpost duty at Panmunjom to always maintain the maximum alertness as they are standing in confrontation with the enemies at all times," the KCNA said in a separate English-language dispatch.

   The border village, located inside a 4-kilometer-wide military buffer zone separating the two Koreas, is one of the key venues for inter-Korean meetings.

   North Korea's military has already "put traitor Lee and puppet military warmongers within an optical sight," the Rodong Sinmun said, adding that North Korea will turn Seoul and Incheon into seas of flame.

   The North "never makes an empty talk," the newspaper warned.


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