January 17, 2009 / 12:39 PM / 11 years ago

North Korea military says to "wipe out" the South

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea’s army said on Saturday it would assume an “all-out confrontational posture” against the South and wipe out the conservative government in Seoul for refusing to cooperate with them.

Ties across the heavily-armed border between the two Koreas have turned icy since President Lee Myung-bak came to office last year on a promise to get tough on his communist neighbour after 10 years of liberal leaders’ efforts to engage Pyongyang.

“Now that traitor Lee Myung Bak and his group opted for confrontation, denying national reconciliation and cooperation, backed by foreign forces, our revolutionary armed forces are compelled to take an all-out confrontational posture to shatter them,” the North’s army spokesman said.

The spokesman said Lee and his “puppet military warhawks” have driven “our revolutionary armed forces to take a strong military retaliatory step to wipe them out,” in comments carried by the official KCNA news agency.

An officer at South Korea’s Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said it has stepped up defensive alert against potential moves by the North but has not detected unusual activities.

A North Korean soldier shot dead a South Korean woman in a tourist enclave run by a Hyundai conglomerate affiliate in July and North Korea all but froze border crossings since December, blaming Lee for dragging Korean relations to a dangerous low.

The North has also been angered by a cut in aid that poured in from the wealthy South. It has threatened to reduce its neighbour to ashes, but there has not been a major military clash since naval skirmishes killed dozens of sailors on both sides in 2002.

The army spokesman, appearing in full uniform on North Korea’s state television, said provocations by the South’s military including naval intrusions have cross the “danger line” and it could “no longer remain an onlooker to them.”

Reporting by Jack Kim

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