North Korea: U.N. Sanctions Are "Declarations of War"

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Jan. 25 2013 10:30 AM

Who Is North Korea Threatening Today?

North Korean rocket Unha-3, carrying the satellite Kwangmyongsong-3
North Korean rocket Unha-3, carrying the satellite Kwangmyongsong-3

Photo by KNS/AFP/Getty Images.

As we explained yesterday, North Korea is none too pleased with the U.N.'s recent condemnation of its December rocket launch. Kim Jong-un initially focused much of his rage on the United States, which the North Korean government dubbed "the sworn enemy of the Korean people" in a classically hyperbolic statement announcing plans for new nuclear tests to "target" the United States.

Today, Kim and co. refocused their anger closer to home, threatening to take "physical countermeasures" against South Korea if it helps enforce the U.N.'s sanctions, which the north claimed amount to "declarations of war." The New York Times with more:

In a statement issued in the name of its Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, which manages relations with South Korea, North Korea gave no hint of what those countermeasures might be. ...
"If the puppet group of traitors takes a direct part in the U.N. ‘sanctions,’ the D.P.R.K. will take strong physical countermeasures against it,” North Korea said, using the nickname it often uses for the South Korean government and the acronym of its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. " ‘Sanctions’ mean a war and a declaration of war against us."
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It's relatively easy to brush off most of the threats that come out of North Korea, given their histrionic language and relative frequency. Still, as the Times points out, this type of threats hasn't always turned out to be full-fledged bluster. North Korea has been known to launch unexpected military attacks at its neighbor to the south, most recently in 2010 when it was responsible for two attacks: the shelling of a border island that killed four South Koreans and the sinking of a South Korean warship that left 46 sailors dead. Regardless of whether the nation launches a similar attack this time around, the Kim Jong-il-like behavior currently being displayed by Kim Jong-un has pretty much quashed all hopes that a change in power would result in a change in posture from North Korea.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

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