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North Korea warns foreigners to leave South Korea

April 09, 2013|By Jung-yoon Choi

SEOUL -- North Korea's state-run Asia Pacific Peace Committee warned foreigners in South Korea Tuesday to set up evacuation plans.

State media KCNA carried a statement, saying Pyonyang does not want any harm done to foreigners in South Korea in case of a war and urging "all foreign organizations, companies and tourists to work out measures for evacuation."

Analysts, however, said that a war is unlikely, dismissing the announcement as yet another threat by Kim Jong Un's belligerent regime.

"If North Korea fires at Seoul or other regions in South Korea, that will mean an all-out war," said Park Syung-je, a military analyst with Seoul-based Asia Strategy Institute. "While the [North Korean] leader Kim Jong Un is young, senior military generals surrounding him are old. They won't be so reckless to launch a total war, as that will be a suicide mission."

Meanwhile, Japan's daily Sankei reported that Pyongyang has warned certain foreign embassies in the capital of a plan to launch a missile on Wednesday. Quoting several sources, the Japanese newspaper said that North Korea is planning on launching a missile that will fly over Japanese territory and hit the Pacific ocean.

Experts say North Korean leaders are not likely to back down from their bellicose rhetoric at this point, as April marks an eventful month for North Korea. Kim Jong Un's one-year anniversary as the head of the ruling Worker's Party and the head of its National Defense Commission falls on the Thursday and Saturday, respectively. The Stalinist state's founder and current leader's grandfather Kim Il Sung's birthday also falls on April 15.

North Korea recently moved its medium-range rocket to the eastern coast which puts South Korea, Japan and other parts of Southeast Asia within a 2,500-mile range.

Following threats of nuclear war last Friday, Pyongyang set Wednesday as the deadline for foreign missions to leave the country, saying they cannot guarantee their safety after that date.

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