Is this a sign of a new assertiveness?
North Korea has been criticised for remarks about the "final destruction" of South Korea made during a UN debate on disarmament.
North Korean diplomat Jon Yong Ryong told the meeting in Geneva that "South Korea's erratic behaviour would only herald its final destruction".
The comments come after North Korea's third nuclear test on 12 February.
There was immediate criticism of the comments from other nations, including South Korea and Britain.
Mr Jon said: "As the saying goes, a new-born puppy knows no fear of a tiger. South Korea's erratic behaviour would only herald its final destruction."
Without specifically referring to the nuclear test, Mr Jon said North Korea had recently taken a "resolute step for self-defence", which he described as "strong counter-actions to a foreign aggressor".
"If the US takes a hostile approach toward the DPRK (North Korea) to the last, rendering the situation complicated, it (North Korea) will be left with no option but to take the second and third stronger steps in succession," he added.
Britain's ambassador at the talks, Joanne Adamson, said such language was "completely inappropriate".
Thank God for the British ambassador! I imagine the North Koreans were suitably chastened.
Opinion is divided as to how concerned South Korea should be:
North Korea’s choice to threaten South Korea with “final destruction” during a UN meeting yesterday has caused consternation among experts in Seoul, with some seeing it as the dawn of a new level of threat against South Korea, while others dismiss it as more of the same from a predictable enemy....
Representing those who believe North Korea is now showing a greater degree of assertiveness in light of its asymmetrical military superiority, Park Young Ho, a senior researcher with the Korea Institute for National Unification, warned, “We have to regard this as North Korea employing an active strategy of using nuclear weapons to turn South Korea into a military hostage.”
“North Korea believes it has overwhelming military power over South Korea, if it excludes the U.S. nuclear umbrella and conventional forces,” he went on, adding, “The nuclear threat to South Korea is greater than the past threat from conventional weaponry. With the success of its ICBMs and the nuclear test, they will now start actively threatening South Korea.”
However, other experts don’t believe that the situation is that grave. Kim Tae Woo, a former chairman of KINU, dismissed it as a weatherworn effort to tame a new South Korean government.
Kim stated, “It is not at all surprising; it is North Korea’s normal way of threatening South Korea. The remarks were made on the UN stage, meaning that it was a warning to the Park administration not to partake of sanctions.”
He added, “North Korean has threatened South Korea a number of times in the past by saying that Seoul will be turned into a sea of fire. This is just a change of wording that does not mean anything special.”
Well, he has a point. And if the South Koreans feel threatened, should the US be equally concerned? After all, they're being threatened too. From the official KCNA, under the somewhat unfortunate headline, DPRK Service Personnel Vow to Give U.S. Imperialists Finishing Stroke:
Upon hearing the news of the successful third underground nuclear test, soldiers of the Korean People's Army at the post on Mt. Taedok renewed their will to mercilessly wipe out those who dare provoke the DPRK.
Officer Han Jin Hyok said he was very pleased to hear the news, adding:
The DPRK demonstrated once again the grit and pluck of Songun Korea which does what it is determined to do and the iron faith and will of the great Paektusan nation, which never makes an empty talk.
I feel highly proud of being soldiers of the peerlessly brilliant commander....
Non-commissioned officer Ri Il Gwon said:
It is the spirit of the powerful revolutionary army of Mt. Paektu to strike enemies once it is determined to do and emerge a victor in any battle.
We warn the brigandish U.S. imperialists. They should bear in mind that they can never escape a deadly strike, should they infringe upon the sovereignty of the DPRK even a bit.
Soldier Ri Jong Hak said:
Let us blow up such land as the U.S., cesspool of injustice and malignant tumor-like entity on the earth. These are angry voices of the service personnel of the KPA heard from its every post.