North Korea declares "state of war" with South Korea
North Korea has announced that it is entering a "state of war" with South Korea, but some say critical signs of war are not yet there
Various news agencies are reporting that North Korea has announced that it has entered a "state of war" with South Korea.
In a joint statement attributed to all government bodies and institutions, the North said it would now deal with every inter-Korean issue accordingly.
"As of now, inter-Korea relations enter a state of war and all matters between the two Koreas will be handled according to wartime protocol," the statement said.
The two countries have never formalised a peace treaty made at the end of the Korean War in the 1950s. It is not yet clear what the North's threat means.
The statement comes as North Korea ratchets up talk of striking the United States. Yesterday the North issued a statement saying it had put its rockets "on standby" to strike the US mainland and military bases.
The North had announced earlier this month that it was ripping up the armistice and other bilateral peace pacts signed with Seoul in protest against South Korea-US joint military exercises.
Voiding the ceasefire theoretically opened the way to a resumption of hostilities, although observers noted it was far from the first time that North Korea had announced the demise of the armistice.
The latest order came after US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Washington would not be cowed by Pyongyang's bellicose threats and stood ready to respond to "any eventuality".
North Korean plans to strike targets in Hawaii and the continental United States were revealed in a photograph taken in Kim Jong-un's military command centre that was released on Friday. The images show a chart marked "US mainland strike plan" and missile trajectories that the NK News web site estimates terminate in Hawaii, Washington DC, Los Angeles and what they claim is Austin, Texas.
But commentators have noted that North Korea's warnings could be usual bluster, as most steps taken by the North thus far have happened on previous occasions, including the severing of critical communications with the South.
Max Fischer noted in the Washington Post, "...we do have one pretty good metric with which to judge the country’s intentions: the Kaesong Industrial Complex.
"The Kaesong Industrial Complex, located just across the northern side of the border, is staffed by South and North Koreans. It can’t function without Pyongyang’s daily okay. If the North suddenly shuts down Kaesong at some point, watch out. But as long as it’s still running, as it has been throughout the provocations and tensions of the last few weeks, we can probably – probably — assume that North Korea is not actually planning to launch a war."
Factory managers at Kaesong reached by The Associated Press by telephone at the factory said the overall mood there is normal.
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