North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un has ordered his frontline troops to be ready for war, against a backdrop of rising military tensions between his country and South Korea. The announcement follows an exchange of artillery shells across the two countries’ heavily fortified border. Aljazeera reports:
The Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) is a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty, leaving the Korean Peninsula still technically in a state of war. The North’s official KCNA news agency said the move came during an emergency meeting late on Thursday of the powerful Central Military Commission of which Kim is the chairman.
During the meeting, Kim ordered frontline, combined units of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) to “enter a wartime state” from Friday 5pm local time (08:00 GMT). The troops should be “fully battle ready to launch surprise operations” while the entire frontline should be placed in a “semi-war state,” KCNA quoted him as saying.
The CMC meeting came hours after the two Koreas traded artillery fire on Thursday, leaving no apparent casualties but pushing already elevated cross-border tensions to dangerously high levels. The KPA followed up with an ultimatum sent via military hotline that gave the South 48 hours to dismantle loudspeakers blasting propaganda messages across the border or face further military action.