North Korea warns foreigners to evacuate South Korea

North Korea on Tuesday said all foreigners and foreign-run businesses in the South should draw up evacuation plans, the latest in a series of shrill warnings from Pyongyang about what it describes as likely armed conflict on the peninsula.
The North “does not want to see foreigners in South Korea fall victim to the war,” the country’s state-run news agency said in a statement attributed to the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, an arm of the ruling Workers’ Party.

The warning was dismissed as bluster by most security analysts, who say Pyongyang wants only to raise tensions and win political concessions from the South, not go to war with it. Officials in Seoul said they saw no signs in the North of irregular military activity or preparations for war, and a spokesman for the United States Embassy in Seoul said there was no evidence of an imminent threat to U.S. citizens in South Korea.

Still, the North’s warning underscored how the secretive police state is taking increasingly unfamiliar measures to portray itself as a threat. Within the last week, North Korea, under 30-year-old leader Kim Jong Un, has temporarily shuttered a joint industrial park, announced the restart of a nuclear reactor that generates weapons-grade plutonium, and told diplomats in Pyongyang that their safety couldn’t be guaranteed from this Wednesday.

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Japan on High Alert After North Korea’s Attack

North Korea’s artillery attack on a South Korean island put the Japanese government on high alert, with Prime Minister Naoto Kan ordering his cabinet members to step up information-gathering and prepare for emergencies.

China sends two ships to patrol islands in the East China Sea that are also claimed by Japan, the latest sign of heightened tension between the two nations. Video courtesy of Reuters.

After Mr. Kan gathered his key cabinet ministers for an emergency meeting late Tuesday, Tokyo issued a statement that harshly condemned Pyongyang for its attacks on civilian targets and expressed strong support for South Korea.

"The latest act of provocation undermines the peace and security of the entire northeast Asian region including Japan, not just those of South Korea," chief cabinet secretary Yoshito Sengoku said at a news conference, as he called the attack an "unforgivable act." "We demand an immediate end to this kind of action," he said.

The strong show of support for South Korea comes as Tokyo moves to strengthen security ties with Seoul, as both nations, along with their mutual allies such as the U.S. and Australia, beef up cooperation to counter rising tensions in northeast Asia.

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