SEOUL, South Korea (TheBlaze/AP) -- Tensions between North Korea and South Korean escalated Saturday when the former issued a letter announcing that it was in “state of war” with the latter.
The Hermit Kingdom’s latest act of belligerence comes a day after its leader threatened the United States because two American B-2 bombers flew a training mission in South Korea.
Analysts say a full-scale conflict is extremely unlikely and North Korea's threats are instead aimed at drawing Washington into talks that could result in aid and boosting leader Kim Jong Un's image at home. But the harsh rhetoric from North Korea and rising animosity from the rivals that have followed U.N. sanctions over Pyongyang's Feb. 12 nuclear test have raised worries of a misjudgment leading to a clash.
In a joint statement by the government, political parties and organizations, North Korea said Saturday that it will deal with all matters involving South Korea according to "wartime regulations." It also warned it will retaliate against any provocations by the United States and South Korea without "any prior notice."
The divided Korean Peninsula is already in a technical state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a cease-fire, not a peace treaty. But Pyongyang said it was scrapping the war armistice earlier this month.
South Korea's Unification Ministry released a statement saying the latest threat wasn't new and was just a follow-up to Kim's earlier order to put troops on a high alert in response to annual U.S-South Korean military drills. Pyongyang sees those drills as rehearsals for an invasion; the allies call them routine and defensive.
In an indication North Korea is not immediately considering starting a war, officials in Seoul said South Korean workers continued Saturday to cross the border to their jobs at a joint factory park in North Korea that's funded by South Koreans
On Friday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un warned his forces were ready "to settle accounts with the U.S." after two nuclear-capable U.S. B-2 bombers dropped dummy munitions on a South Korean island range as part of joint drills and returned to its base in Missouri.
North Korean state media later released a photo of Kim and his senior generals huddled in front of a map showing routes for envisioned strikes against cities on both American coasts. The map bore the title "U.S. Mainland Strike Plan."
At the main square in Pyongyang, tens of thousands of North Koreans turned out for a 90-minute mass rally in support of Kim's call to arms.
Small North Korean warships, including patrol boats, conducted maritime drills off both coasts of North Korea near the border with South Korea earlier this week, South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said in a briefing Friday.
The spokesman said that South Korea's military was mindful of the possibility that North Korean drills could lead to an actual provocation. He said that the South Korean and U.S. militaries are watching closely for any signs of missile launch preparations in North Korea.
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