The North Korean military on Monday threatened to launch a 'nationwide sacred war' to wipe out South Korea, days after the South announced the deployment of new long-range cruise missiles which are capable of striking any place in the North.
"The indignation of the army and people of the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) at the group of rat-like (South Korean President) Lee Myung Bak is running high," a statement from the North Korean military said, referring to the North's official name. "Shouts such as "Destroy," Beat to death" and "Tear to death" are ringing out on this land. But the Lee group of traitors is still doing mischiefs, not coming to its senses."
Monday's threat comes after the South Korean defense ministry announced on Thursday that it has deployed new long-range cruise missiles with a range of 1,000 kilometers (621 miles), allowing the South to strike any place in the North. "They heaped praises on a few poor-looking missiles," the North's military said in Monday's statement.
North Korea has repeatedly threatened to launch attacks against the South in recent years, but Monday's announcement was made more prominently than previous threats. The North's state-run television broke into programming to make what it described as a 'special announcement.'
Flashing banners on the website of the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) also called for a 'nationwide sacred war' to wipe out South Korea. "Let us shower the Lee Myung Bak-led swarm of rats with a fire of retaliation," the banner said. "Let us blow up the bases used to hurt the dignity of our Supreme Leadership! Let us wipe out the Lee Myung Bank-led swarm of rats in this land and sky!"
"The special actions of our revolutionary armed forces will start soon to meet the reckless challenge of the group of traitors," the North's military said in its statement. "Those actions are an eruption of the public anger and resentment and a sacred war of all service personnel and people to protect the dignity of our supreme leadership. Their targets are the Lee Myung Bak group of traitors, the arch criminals, and the group of rat-like elements including conservative media destroying the mainstay of the fair public opinion."
The statement added: "Once the above-said special actions kick off, they will reduce all the rat-like groups and the bases for provocations to ashes in three or four minutes, in much shorter time, by unprecedented peculiar means and methods of our own style. Our revolutionary armed forces do not make an empty talk."
On Sunday, a spokesman for the North Korean Foreign Ministry called South Korean President Lee "human scum", responding to Lee's recent remarks which the North said 'desecrated' the 100th birth anniversary of the late North Korean leader Kim Il-sung, who founded the country.
"The service personnel and people of the DPRK are shaking with irrepressible resentment at the group which defamed the father of the nation whom they are holding in high esteem as the sun," the North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Sunday. "They are now eagerly waiting for the issue of an order so that they may mercilessly punish the traitor."
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula, which remains in a technical state of war, have been at critical since the 2010 sinking of the ROKS Cheonan, a South Korean Navy ship carrying 104 people. The incident left 46 people killed and a South Korean-led international investigation blamed a North Korean torpedo which was allegedly fired from a midget submarine, although the North insists it was not responsible.
Months after the sinking of the ship, North Korean forces bombarded the disputed Yeonpyeong Island. The artillery engagement from the North, which claims it acted in 'self-defense', left two South Korean civilians killed while the South's return fire killed at least five people in North Korea.
Earlier this month, North Korea attempted to launch the Kwangmyongsong-3 (Bright Star-3) weather satellite on a Taepodong-2 ballistic missile to mark Kim Il-sung's birth anniversary, but the missile failed about a minute after takeoff and crashed in the Yellow Sea. Signs indicate the North may be planning to carry out a third nuclear test in the near future to make up for the failure.
The 1950-1953 Korean War, which left millions of people killed, ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty.