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What’s different this time in Korean standoff — AP Analysis
The high-level meeting began Saturday evening despite a deadline set by Pyongyang, which had threatened military action unless Seoul ended propaganda broadcasts into the communist north and removed banks of loudspeakers it has installed along the border.
Kim reported from Seoul, South Korea. South Korean army soldiers ride on a truck in Yeoncheon, south of the demilitarized zone that divides the two Koreas, South Korea, Friday, August 21, 2015.
South Korean television broadcast images of President Park Geun-Hye wearing army fatigues as she addressed a meeting of top military commanders outside Seoul.
The meeting started at 6:30 p.m. and continued late into Saturday night, South Korean officials said.
For the moment, there has been little sense of panic among ordinary South Koreans who have become largely inured over the years to the North’s regular – and regularly unrealised – threats of imminent war.
He pointed out that the escalating tension could cause another military clash between the two Koreas, dealing a serious blow to the South Korean economy, which is already in trouble. Still, North Korea’s unpredictable nature keeps tensions high.
“Pyongyang warned it will take military action if the South’s propaganda loudspeakers aren’t removed by Saturday at 5 p.m. Seoul raised military readiness to the highest level”.
However, in announcing the meeting, the North’s KCNA news agency referred to the South as the Republic of Korea, a rare formal recognition of its rival state, and in sharp contrast to its recent tone.
Mr Hwang and Kim Yang Gon visited South Korea in October past year during the Asian Games in Incheon, but their meeting with Mr Kim, the South’s national security director, and then-unification ministry Ryoo Kihl-jae failed to produce a tangible outcome in improving ties between the countries.
The global community has long experience of North Korea’s particularly aggressive brand of diplomatic brinkmanship, and the request for talks will confirm for many that this has largely been another exercise in attention-seeking by Pyongyang.
Mr. Hwang is known as a close adviser to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
High-level talks between officials from North and South Korea have been suspended, but will resume later, the South’s presidential office said, APA reports quoting TASS.
Seoul said it would continue the broadcasts unless the North accepted responsibility for the blasts.
Since the exchange of fire, North Korea has ramped up its aggressive rhetoric and declared a “semi-war state”.
Hostility had also been brewing over South Korea’s annual military drills with the US, which Pyongyang has called a rehearsal for invasion.
South Korean Vice-Defence Minister Baek Seung-joo said on Friday Seoul expected North Korea to fire at some of the 11 sites where it has set up loudspeakers. Pyongyang denied any role in the incident.
The South fired back 29 artillery rounds over the demilitarized zone (DMZ) dividing the countries.
The four South Korean political leaders discussed measures to jointly cope with possible provocations from the North.