North Korea’s dictatorial leader Kim Jong-un declared a “quasi-state of war” on South Korea, telling his military to be prepared to take action as early as Friday evening.
The declaration came as South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo warned various media at a press conference North Korea seemed poised to go forth with short- and mid-range ballistic missile testing, Fox News reported. The declaration also came as North Korea suffered widespread Internet outages across the country.
Officials couldn’t conclude if the outages came by way of a purposeful hit, or if they were accidental, the Daily Beast reported. But hackers, some affiliated with the U.S. government, have targeted North Korea’s Internet in recent months, particularly after Pyongyang was suspected of launching attacks on numerous online sites in America.
Yonhap News Agency, meanwhile, cited a South Korean government official who said Pyongyang seemed to be “weighing the timing of the firing under its strategic intention to increase military tension on the Korean Peninsula to the highest level.”
Meanwhile, Ji Jae Ryong, North Korean ambassador to China, told journalists in Beijing: “The situation of the country is now inching closer to the brink of war,”
South Korea has placed its military on the highest level of alert.
The “quasi-declaration of war,” which sent North Korea’s front-line troops into “a wartime state,” follows a trade of fire between the two countries on Thursday afternoon, as CNN reported.
First, North Korea fired off two shells toward a South Korean town. In response, South Korea sent back dozens of shells. Nobody was injured, but the exchange of fire started when North Korea demanded South Korea stop blaring propaganda music.
North Korea has given South Korea until Saturday at 5 p.m. to stop blaring the anti-Pyongyang propaganda, or face further military action.
According to reports from North Korea, “military commanders were urgently dispatched for operations to attack South Korean psychological warfare facilities if the South doesn’t stop operating them,” Fox News said.
The South reportedly has 11 such sites in operation, where loudspeakers pipe in propaganda to the North.
This isn’t the first time North Korea has issued bellicose language against Seoul. In 2013, North Korea announced it had entered “a state of war” with South Korean at a time of heightened border tensions. That war never materialized, however.