North Korea declared a “a quasi-state of war in frontline areas” facing the rival South and said it was ready for military operations.
The move came after tensions jumped when shells were fired across the world’s most heavily armed border.
The North has declared states of war before, but the official Central News Agency reported that leader Kim Jong Un had convened an emergency meeting of the central military commission of its ruling party and had ordered that “troops to be fully ready for any military operations at any time”.
The KCNA report said “military commanders were urgently dispatched for operations to attack South Korean psychological warfare facilities if the South doesn’t stop operating them”.
Such threats from the North are common, but these come after South Korea fired dozens of shells on Thursday at North Korea after the North lobbed several rounds across the border and threatened to take further action unless Seoul ends its loudspeaker broadcasts.
Officials in Seoul said the North fired across the Demilitarised Zone to back up an earlier threat to attack South Korean border loudspeakers that, after a lull of 11 years, have started broadcasting anti-Pyongyang propaganda.
But the Supreme Headquarters of the Korean People’s Army issued a statement denying it had launched any shots at the South.
“Using the pretext that our forces fired one shell to the south, which is not true, it made reckless moves by firing 36 shells at our military posts,” said the statement.
It said the shells landed near four military posts, but caused no injuries.
“This reckless shelling incident is a serious military provocation to our sacred territory and military posts which is intolerable,” it said.