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(LEAD) N. Korea threatens to attack S. Korean propaganda sites

All Headlines 17:28 October 15, 2010

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with added background, details)
By Sam Kim

SEOUL, Oct. 15 (Yonhap) -- North Korea threatened Friday to strike South Korean propaganda sites if Seoul carries out an operation to make anti-Pyongyang broadcasts and send leaflets across their heavily armed border.

The threat came after South Korean Defense Minister Kim Tae-young told lawmakers on Oct. 5 that his government was considering a plan to disseminate radios in the North so its residents can receive anti-Pyongyang broadcasts sent from the South.

The North, which strictly restricts the flow of information and runs a massive personality cult around its leader, is said to fear such propaganda because its system may be severely undermined.

In a message to its South Korean counterpart, the North Korean military said it will mount "physical strikes" if South Korea begins broadcasts and sends leaflets critical of Pyongyang, the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

"We do not want tension to intensify, nor will we ever condone any minor provocation or act of war that threatens peace," the KCNA quoted the unnamed head of the North's general-level military delegation as saying in the message.

"If the South does not stop anti-Pyongyang psychological broadcasts and the dissemination of leaflets, it will be met with our military's strikes on those sites," it quoted him as saying.

During its first military talks in two years with South Korea on Sept. 30, the North made a similar threat.

The two governments, technically still in a state of conflict after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, have been at loggerheads for months over the March sinking of a South Korean warship in which 46 sailors died. The South blames the North while Pyongyang denies any involvement.

In a sign of easing tension, the sides agreed last month to temporarily hold the reunions of families separated by war at a mountain resort in the communist state. The North is also pressing the South to quickly agree to renew talks on their suspended cross-border tourism project.

samkim@yna.co.kr
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