(Associated Press) Recent Korean history reveals a sobering possibility: It may only be a matter of time before North Korea launches a sudden, deadly attack on the South. And perhaps more unsettling, Seoul has vowed that this time, it will respond with an even stronger blow.

Humiliated by past attacks, South Korea has promised – as recently as Tuesday – to hit back hard at the next assault from the North, opening up the prospect that a skirmish could turn into a wider war.

Lost in the headline-making North Korean bluster about nuclear strikes on Washington in response to U.N. sanctions is a single sentence in a North Korean army Supreme Command statement of March 5. It said North Korea “will make a strike of justice at any target anytime as it pleases without limit.”

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