Pyongyang expels South Koreans, Seoul threatens attack
The regime of Kim Jong-il is driving out the "South Korean foreigners" from the inter-Korean economic complex in Kaesong, in response to Seoul's criticisms of the North's nuclear programme. The new commander of the South Korean army warns of a pre-emptive attack against nuclear installations in the North.
Seoul (AsiaNews) - North Korea has ordered the evacuation of all the "South Korean foreigners" from the industrial complex of Kaesong, known as the "inter-Korean economic zone", which stands on territory administered by Pyongyang. At the same time, for the first time since the end of the civil war, the head of the South Korean armed forces has spoken of the option of a preventive attack against nuclear installations in the North, "in case of an atomic threat".
Both are signs of the high diplomatic tension seen between the two countries since the election of South Korea's new president, the conservative Lee Myung-bak, which took place at the end of December. South Korea has asked its citizens present in North Korean territory to leave the country, but has asked the regime headed by Kim Jong-il to "normalise its policy concerning the common economic zone".
The spokesman of the unification ministry of Seoul, Kim Ho-nyeon, charges: "All responsibilities caused by the North's unilateral demand for the withdrawal lie on the North's authorities. The evacuation is a response to the comment of our government, which, in recent days, has described as useless any expansion of Kaesong under the continued nuclear threat that the Stalinist regime shows no sign of wanting to eliminate".
Precisely for this reason, General Kim Tae-young (the new commander of the South Korean armed forces) has stated: "The South Korean military is prepared to launch a pre-emptive attack on North Korea's nuclear installations if they become a military threat. Our goal is to prevent North Korea's nuclear weapons from exploding in our territory". This is the first mention of an attack by one of the Koreas against the other since the end of the civil war in 1953.