North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited his frontline artillery today and told commanders "to strike and wipe out the enemies" on Baengnyeong and turn the island into a "sea of fire" the Central Korean News Agency reported.
"Once an order is issued, you should break the waists of the crazy enemies, totally cut their windpipes and thus clearly show them what a real war is like," Kim was quoted.
This aggressive rhetoric comes at a time of escalating military tensions between South Korea and the communist North. The situation between the two countries and the U.S. has become progressively worse since last month.
North Korea conducted a successful underground test of a nuclear weapon on Feb 11. In response, the United Nations passed tougher economic and trade sanctions against the North. The sanctions were drafted by the United States and China, the first time China has openly supported sanctions against their traditional ally.
Then, in response to the sanctions, Kim Jong-un threatened South Korea and the U.S. with a preemptive nuclear attack if they were threatened. American and South Korean forces conducted joint military exercises. Kim Jong-un then stated that he would no longer abide by the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War.
These latest threats come as the United Nations Human Rights Council issued a report on the deplorable state of human rights in the communist country.
Rights violations in North Korea "have reached a critical mass", Marzuki Darusman told the council, citing public food deprivation, torture and arbitrary detention. He highlighted concerns about a network of political prison camps believed to hold at least 200,000 people, and called for an international commission of inquiry into North Korea's human rights record (http://aje.me/Y7Ud80).
Kim's threats against the South Korean island of Baengnyeong could be attributed to more bluster if they were not without precedent.
The South Korean naval vessel Cheonan was sunk near Baengnyeong in 2010 killing 46 sailors, and later that year North Korea shelled the nearby island of Yeonpyeong, killing four people.
On Baengnyeong the threats are being taken seriously.
An administrative official on Baengnyeong, Kim Young-Gu, said civilian emergency shelters on the island had been fully stocked and all village councils put on high alert."It's not like there's a mass exodus of panicked islanders to the mainland. But to be honest with you, we're a bit scared," he said in an interview (http://bit.ly/WktGqy).
The South Korean president, Park Geun-hye was only sworn in two weeks ago and hasn't completed the formation of her cabinet. The candidate for defense minister,Kim Byung-kwan, remains unconfirmed amidst domestic political discussions.
"I feel a tremendous sense of danger," he told a televised press conference. "There should never be a slightest vacuum in national defense at any moment. And now is a perilous time" he told reporters. "If the North provokes us, we will respond in ways that will cause them more harm," he said (http://aje.me/Y7Ud80).
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