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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

By Ju-min Park and Tony Munroe

SEOUL (Reuters) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered his troops onto a war footing from 5 p.m on Friday after Pyongyang issued an ultimatum to Seoul to halt anti-North propaganda broadcasts by Saturday afternoon or face military action.

Tension on the divided peninsula escalated on Thursday when North Korea fired shells into South Korea to protest against the loudspeaker broadcasts from the Korean border. The South responded with its own artillery barrage.

Both sides said there were no casualties or damage in their territory.

The North’s shelling came after it had demanded last weekend that South Korea end the broadcasts or face military action — a relatively rare case of it following up on its frequent threats against the South.

Its 48-hour ultimatum to halt the broadcasts, delivered in a letter to the South Korean Defense Ministry via a joint military communications channel, was also uncharacteristically specific.

A South Korean military official said the broadcasts would continue.

The North Korean leader would put his troops on a “fully armed state of war” starting from 5 p.m. (0430 EDT) and had declared a “quasi-state of war” in frontline areas, Pyongyang’s official KCNA news agency reported.

Some North Korean propaganda websites were not accessible on Friday morning.

Pyongyang’s declaration of a semi-state of war was the first use of such terminology since the North shelled a South Korean island in 2010, the Yonhap News Agency said. Two South Korean marines and two civilians were killed in the incident.

South Korea’s won currency <KRW=> and shares <.KS11> fell early on Friday as the heightened tensions added volatility to markets already hit by concerns about the global economy.

The U.S. military, which has 28,500 personnel in South Korea, said it was closely monitoring the situation.

“The safety of our personnel and families is paramount and we will take prudent measures to ensure their well-being,” it said in a statement without elaborating.

Washington earlier urged Pyongyang to halt any “provocative” actions in the wake of Thursday’s exchange of fire, the first between the two Koreas since last October. Japan urged North Korea to exercise restraint.

“Very Grave Situation”

South Korea limited entry into an industrial park it runs jointly with North Korea, but the complex, seen as a barometer for the state of inter-Korean relations, continued to operate.

“This is now a very grave situation. So we need to operate Kaesong Industrial Complex with necessary but minimum personnel,” said Jeong Joon-hee, spokesman for the South’s Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs.

The factory park, a few kilometers north of the Korean border, is the last significant vestige of cooperation from a Korean leaders’ summit 15 years ago. North Korea shut the complex for five months in 2013, during a period of diplomatic tension that followed a nuclear test by Pyongyang.

Seoul began blasting anti-North Korean propaganda from loudspeakers on the border on Aug. 10, resuming a tactic that both sides had stopped in 2004.

Tension between the two Koreas has risen since early this month, when landmine explosions in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) of the border wounded two South Korean soldiers. Seoul accused North Korea of laying the mines, which Pyongyang has denied.

The incident prompted Seoul’s propaganda broadcasts.

North Korea on Monday began conducting its own broadcasts.

Thursday’s exchange of fire took place during annual joint U.S. and South Korean military exercises, which Pyongyang frequently condemns as preparation for war.

Daniel Pinkston of the International Crisis Group think tank said the large presence of U.S. troops in the South for the exercises could reduce the risk of escalation.

“This is a bad time to pick a fight with the South while it has all these resources there,” he said.

(Additional reporting by James Pearson; Editing by Dean Yates)

Photo: North Korean soldiers patrol at the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas, South Korea, August 11, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

  • tdm3624

    North Korea is like an internet troll who gets happy when you respond to their words. Just ignore them or laugh at them. They aren’t worth getting upset over.

    • BillP

      You are so correct about ignoring intern trolls. Just look at the comment 2 below yours as a prime example of trolls


    As a 23 year navy veteran, this is scary to the military man in me because we still have military men and women on the DMZ between the two Koreas. One really stupid move from the North or South could cause a real Sh– storm to break out over there.

    • CrankyToo

      I spent nearly two years at Kwang Ju Air Base, Republic of South Korea in the
      late 1970s. During my first month on station, ten North Korean sappers were
      smoked trying to infiltrate the base (which is in the extreme south of the
      country, by the way), and prevailing mentality was that a sh!t storm was

      During my last month on station, the president of South Korea, Park Chung Hee was assassinated. It was presumed at the time that the killer was a North Korean agent, and that a sh!t storm was definitely imminent. So I, and 31 other USAF Security Policemen (and four TDY US Marines) armed ourselves with what we had, preparatory to defending the American sector of the base against the expected North Korea invasion. Fortunately for us, it never came because all we had was three M-113 armored personnel carriers, two M-60 machine guns, a few dozen M-16s and a handful of M-79 grenade launchers. Your garden-variety Turd Party redneck is better armed than we were at the time. Of course, the sh!t storm factor was downgraded a few days later when it turned out that Park was murdered by his own CIA chief.

      Six months later, I was back in CONUS when South Korea was rocked by “The May 18th Democratic Uprising”, which ultimately led to the withdrawal of American “forces” from Kwangju AB – all 160 of them (who were commanded at the time by a Colonel Custer, interestingly enough). It was believed at the time that the rebellion was provoked by Communist (read: North Korean) sympathizers.

      All those incidents transpired more than a quarter century after the signing
      of the armistice which ended the Korean War. And since those days, roughly
      another 35 years have passed, with frequent provocations by one side or the
      other, any one of which might have precipitated the much antifipated “sh!t

      The point of this history lesson is that posturings and provocations have
      been the modus operandi of both Koreas since the end of the actual shooting war, now 63 years ago. And that won’t change until the two Koreas are reunited – which, coincidentally, is the objective of both sides. There’s never going to be a sh!t storm on the Korean peninsula because (a) the South is too passive and (b) the North doesn’t have the wherewithal to succeed militarily against a South Korea allied with the United States. Of course, if Rand Paul ever becomes President, forget everything after “hello”.


        Loved the history lesson… and laughed my ample ars off at the “forget everything after “hello” part. I still find it Amazing that there is still a DMZ and we still have people on it. When I was stationed on Guam some of my friends who were doing their DMZ time would take a hop over to Guam from time to time. Thanks for putting your life on hold to keep America free.

        • CrankyToo

          Right back at ya, Doc. All the best to you and yours.

  • David

    Maybe we can send our LGBT troops there.

    • CrankyToo

      You never miss an opportunity to show the world what a dumba$$ your are.

      • David

        Why not? They are part of the new armed forces!

        • CrankyToo

          My guess is that you’ve never served in our armed forces. Else, you’d probably know that our “newest” armed force, the United States Air Force, has been in business for 65 years.

          • David

            Really? Well first off you are wrong about the age of the USAF. It’s 68 years. Secondly, I apparently amounted to a pimple when I was an air crewman flying Jolly Greens out of Udorn AFB in December of 1972 durning

          • CrankyToo

            Apparently, neither of us can do simple math. Having been established in September, 1947, the Air Force is actually 67
            as we sit at our computers splitting hairs.

            Insofar as you being a Jolly Green aircrew member is concerned, I’m inclined to doubt the veracity of your claim. As anyone who was stationed at Udorn, Ubon, or U Tapao at that time knows, those installations in Thailand were designated as “Air Bases” (AB), not “Air Force Bases” (AFB). In fact, as any airman who’s ever been stationed overseas can probably tell you, non-CONUS USAF installations anywhere in the world, are designated as Air Bases – the exceptions being installations controlled by the Air Forces of other sovereign nations upon which the US Air Force is a tenant (for example, RAF Lakenheath [Royal Air Force], and RTAF Nakhon Phanom [Royal Thai Air Force]).

            I wonder if you would care to share the variant designations and/or tail numbers of any aircraft you crewed on, or at least the squadron you were assigned to at Udorn? Better still, what was your AFSC? Give me one plausible fact and I’ll concede that you do, in fact, amount to a pimple on someone’s backside. Unfortunately, that’s the best I can say about a veteran who would disparage any of our fighting men and women merely because of their sexual preferences. If you’re a vet, you’re a sorry example of one.

            And, by the way, the expression, “F..k you! Have a blessed day.” kinda makes you sound like a sorry example of a Christian, too. I’m just saying…

          • David

            Obviously you served also and for that, thank you for your service. Going on 43 years ago, I may have some of these numbers wrong, but I was there. AFSC 435–; Helicopter Flight Engineer; basic training Lacland AFB; tech school Sheppard Ab;

          • David

            P.S. My math was closer than yours.

          • CrankyToo


          • CrankyToo

            Ok. I’m convinced. And let me add that there’s no way I’d have willingly set foot aboard a Super Jolly Green after seeing a CH-53 variant get several hundred feet off the ground and lose lift. The resulting accident made quite a mess of the dozen souls on board when the rotor chewed up the airframe. So, kudos to you for your courageous service.

            Incidentally, I spent the last three years of the Vietnam War at Travis AFB in northern California where, as a young Security Police investigator, I occasionally had to appear to testify before the US Magistrate in San Francisco. I was prohibited from wearing my uniform on those occasions because of the animus directed at military personnel in those days for our country’s prosecution of the war. Like all our brothers and sisters of the
            era, I carried the stigma of Vietnam for 20 years, up until my retirement at the end of Gulf War I (Operation Desert Storm), which coincidentally vindicated those of us who’d served during the Vietnam era – magically transforming us from baby-killers into heroes. All that to say, it means little to me when a civilian thanks me for my service, because (a) the expression has become somewhat trite, and (b) I know how fickle our adoring public can be. But it means a lot to me when I hear it from another vet. And so, it is in that spirit that I thank you for standing with me all those years ago, just as I thank all those defending us today.

            Insofar as homosexuality is concerned, I understand now that your disdain for LGBTs is rooted in your religious beliefs. But if you’re a true Christian, then you know that God does not consider the sin of homosexuality to be any more or less damning than thievery, adultery, murder or any other. Moreover, you know that it’s incumbent upon you to love and pray for them, as you are encouraged to do for all sinners. I can see that you’re struggling with those premises, and it goes without saying that that’s between you and your creator.

            Spiritual considerations aside, I personally don’t understand the emotions which attend one man’s sexual attraction to another man – or a woman’s to another woman. And I must admit that, on some level, the concept disturbs me. Nevertheless, I cannot
            join you in your persecution of LGBTs because to do so would be to turn against my daughter, my kid sister, and my niece (who used to be my nephew) – all three of whom I love, and who have been fortunate enough to find love, happiness and comfort with others of the same sex who share their feelings and their lifestyle. And let’s not forget that their freedom to pursue their
            happiness is sanctified by the US Constitution (if not by the Good

            Of course, that same revered document also bestows upon you the right to say what you will on the subject. But when you
            simply post a few vitriolic words designed primarily to inflame the passions of those who don’t think or feel as you do, you’re not doing yourself or your beliefs any favors; only exhibiting your contempt. A perfect example is this thread, which was precipitated by your unwarranted and bigoted affront to LGBTs. Perhaps if you’d taken a few extra minutes to explain the rationality behind your remark, I’d have responded with more understanding, and a deeper respect for your position.

            PS – We still have the most powerful, best trained and best equipped military in the world, and a capable Commander in Chief, too. Peace.

          • David

            CrankyToo– a well written reply. Traveling through LA, I was called a “baby killer” also. Those were days long ago. I was a young (18 yrs!) airman who did what his country told him to do. Would I want to do it again? Hell no! Am I glad that I did it? Hell yes!
            Never was stationed in California. Was in Florida and Mississippi (Keesler).
            You are so right…our God doesn’t grade sin. It is all abhorrent to Him. It is easy for me to put down LBGT souls because they sin differently than me. I shouldn’t. I should pray for them and I am doing so right now. We served our country and men like you are a reason we are the greatest country on Earth.
            There are days I wear my vest with a Vietnam Veteran patch on it. Really didn’t until after Desert Storm. My thanks to you for your service is genuine. My prayers for you and your family will be sincere also. I thank you for reminding me that I am not the judge — Jesus Christ is and He is running this show. I worry about our POTUS. I feel he is more Islamic than Christian. I consider you a brother in arms and a brother in Christ. I will try to be a better Christian in the future. May you have a blessed day!

          • CrankyToo

            Thank you for that, my Brother. And please accept my sincere apology for the knee-jerk reaction to your initial post. I’ll endeavor to exercise better restraint when I disagree with you in the future. In fact, let’s both try to deal with one another in paragraphs, rather than talking points henceforth. We need to better understand each other before we go flying off the handle just because we don’t see eye to eye politically.

            May God bless and protect you and yours.

            PS – Sorry to hear you had to do time at both Sheppard and Keesler. What a couple of sh!tholes. On the plus side, you got to spend some time at Homestead. I grew up In Broward County (Hallandale, Hollywood, and Ft Lauderdale), spent a lot of time in N. Miami Beach, and did a lot of diving down in the Keys. Most of my family still lives in Sunrise. But I never got a sniff of Homestead in my 20 year career. Oh well. You buy your ticket and you take your ride.

          • David

            Now, now, now….being a Texan, Sheppard isn’t quite a sh!thole — but Biloxi, MS is! However, me being born at Weisbaden, AFB (that’s BASE by the way!) from a dad who was from Texas and a mother from New Hampshire, makes me quite a bastard! I am sitting here thinking about the time I spent at Homestead. There was a great oyster restaurant in Miami on the 95th Causeway (?) that was super. What a great place to fight communism from! I also dove at John Pennekamp underwater state park! I can’t believe that I am remembering some of the things we did back then.
            I spoke with my Pastor about our conversation concerning LGBTs. He also reminded me of who the Judge is and let me know it is our job (the Great Commission) to spread His word. He made me feel better about how far I fall from the glory of God by letting me know that EVERYBODY does also. As I like to say, I am glad my God is not a just God. Because, if He was, my goose would be cooked! Thankfully, my God is a merciful God! Have a blessed day my Brother in arms.

          • CrankyToo

            This gets more interesting every time we “talk”. I spent four years at Sembach AB during the Cold War era (74-78) and did security inspections several times a year at Wiesbaden AB and at a smaller installation at nearby Bad Kreuznach. They were my favorite TDYs; I absolutely loved the Mainz – Bingen area. Great wine, beer and food, Rhine River views, pretty Frauleins….

            The SP tech school was at Sheppard, but fortunately, I didn’t have to go. I say that because all I ever heard about the place was that it was miserable (no offense cowboy)! The AF was so desperate for SPs at the time (thanks to Vietnam) that I went DDA (Direct Duty Assignment) to Travis. I was one of the last cop DDAs ever to miss Sheppard. Phew!

            Wish I had a dollar for everytime I dove Pennekamp – Mike’s Wreck, The Elbow, Molasses Reef, Christmas Tree Cave; got chased out of the water once by a massive Tiger while diving “Christ of the Abyss”. Scary. Also dove extensively south of the 7-Mile Bridge at Marathon (Bahia Honda, Big Pine Key, Looe Key, and Sombrero). And can’t forget Key West and the Dry Tortugas. Spent many a weekend camping in Pennekamp and on Sunshine Key. Sure wish I was still ten foot tall and bulletproof. Don’t you?

            Doubtless you’ll face many more challenges as you continue your walk in Christ. One foot in front of the other, Bro, and never forget that you’re not alone.

          • David

            Just checked my computer and read your note. HA HA!!!!! The 7 mile Bridge at Marathon Key, Bahia Honda, Big Pine Key… I haven’t heard those words in 40+ years! “Christ of the Abyss” is off of Key Largo (?) and I dove it also! It is truly a small world. Now when I was in, SP (Security Police) Tech School was at Lackland. They also had AP (Air Police). I think they have combined the two now.
            I am enjoying our conversation. While I was born in Germany, I was too young to sample the wine, beer and food. Way too young to care about the Frauleins! So now I sit here in Texas and enjoy great barbecue, Mexican food, Lone Star beer, and great music! Have a blessed day my Brother!

          • CrankyToo

            Small world, indeed.

            The law enforcement (812×0) and security (811×0) functions were combined into one career field (called Security Police) shortly before I enlisted in ’71. I think they moved the Tech School to Sheppard around that time, too. I just realized, I was inducted at the Miami center 44 years ago yesterday. Krikey! How’d I get to be such an old geezer?

            Take care, Bro. I’ll meet you at the next argument…

          • David

            ‘Til then…be safe Brother!