SEOUL — A South Korean official Saturday criticized Western news coverage of North Korea, calling recent reports of large-scale troop movements and shootouts with the Chinese "gross exaggerations and distortions."
"Based on our own intelligence, there is no reason to believe something serious is happening in North Korea," Kwon Byong Hyon, a Foreign Ministry official, said in a news briefing held to deal with a flurry of reports about North Korea that have circulated since the Communist nation abruptly withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in March.
South Korea does not normally play down any threat it perceives from its estranged northern brother. But as a result of what one analyst here called the growing "war of nerves" among Washington, Pyongyang, Seoul, Tokyo and Beijing over the nuclear issue, Kwon said recent reports were being hyped and confusing the public.
A Western diplomatic source in Seoul agreed that some reports seem to have been distorted. But he said the concern over Pyongyang's intentions is justified, given the unprecedented withdrawal from the nuclear treaty and its record as an international "rogue."