May 25, 2010
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il told the country’s military to be combat-ready in a message broadcast last week that coincided with South Korea’s announcement that it blamed his regime for the sinking of a warship, a dissident group said.
The order was broadcast on May 20 by O Kuk Ryol, vice chairman of the National Defense Commission, according to the website of North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity, a Seoul-based group run by defectors from the communist country. Yonhap News agency reported on the posting earlier today, sending the won lower by the most in more than a year and causing stocks to drop.
The report added to perceptions of increased tension in the Korean peninsula following the March 26 sinking of the 1,200 ton Cheonan. South Korea yesterday announced plans for joint military exercises with the U.S. off the west coast where the ship sank, while North Korea today warned of military action in the area after accusing the South of violating its territory in the disputed zone.
“For Kim Jong Il to be giving such an order is pretty serious,” said Kim Yong Hyun, professor of North Korean studies at Seoul-based Dongguk University, adding that he doubted that such a direct order was given.
This article was posted: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 at 3:56 am