North Korea threatens South over 'monstrous criminal act'

North Korea has lashed out again at South Korea over a small public protest in Seoul in which demonstrators burned effigies of the North’s leaders.

North Korea threatens South over 'monstrous criminal act'

North Korea has lashed out again at South Korea over a small public protest in Seoul in which demonstrators burned effigies of the North’s leaders.

The north said it would not hold talks with its neighbour unless it apologized for anti-North Korean actions “big and small” and warning that it could take retaliatory measures at any time.

The statement, by the Supreme Command of the Korean People’s Army, came amid international fears that the North is preparing to conduct a medium-range missile test and also as North Korea marked the second day of festivities in honour of the April 15 birthday of its first leader, Kim Il Sung.

Later its state media quoted a Foreign Ministry spokesman saying North Korea has no intention of holding talks with the US unless it also abandons its hostility against the North.

The spokesman said the North will “intensify unspecified military countermeasures” unless the US stops conducting military drills on the peninsula and pulls out all the military assets needed to threaten the North with a nuclear attack.

The renewed vitriol, which included the threat for unspecified retaliatory action, followed a protest by about 250 people in Seoul, where effigies of Kim Il Sung and his late son and successor, Kim Jong Il, were burned. Such protests are fairly common in South Korea, and although the latest was held on the holiday that North Korea calls “The Day of the Sun,” some analysts suggested North Korea was using it as a pretext to reject calls for a dialogue with the South, at least for the time being.

North Korea often denounces protests, but rarely in the name of the Supreme Command, which is headed by Kim Il Sung’s grandson and North Korea’s overall leader, Kim Jong Un.

The North’s statement said it would refuse any offers of talks with the South until it apologised for the “monstrous criminal act”.

After Pyongyang’s latest volley of rhetoric, South Korea’s Defence Ministry said it was closely monitoring its moves and would “thoroughly and resolutely punish North Korea if it launches any provocation for whatever reason.”

The ultimatum came after US Secretary of State John Kerry ended a tour to coordinate Washington’s response with Beijing, North Korea’s most important ally, as well as with Seoul and Tokyo. He said a missile test would be provocation that would further isolate the country and its impoverished people.

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