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(LEAD) N. Korea calls on foreigners living in S. Korea to devise evacuation plans

All Headlines 15:51 April 09, 2013

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details throughout)

SEOUL, April 9 (Yonhap) -- North Korea on Tuesday called on foreigners living in South Korea to devise evacuation plans, further escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea's Asia-Pacific Peace Committee (KAPPC) said in a statement monitored in Seoul that foreign nationals should find out in advance where they can take shelter as well as examine evacuation plans to leave the country.

The committee, an organ of the ruling Workers' Party that oversees inter-Korean affairs, said the North does not want foreigners in the South to be hurt in the case of war.

"All foreign institutions, companies and tourists in Seoul and other parts of the country should set up plans to take shelter and devise a way to evacuate the country," the KAPPC said. There are some 1.4 million foreigners in South Korea.

"The United States and warmongers in Seoul are in the process of amassing weapons of mass destruction in the South and waiting for the opportunity to strike," it said.

The statement, read by the organization's spokesman, warned that if conflict breaks out, the North will conduct a merciless retaliatory war. The official added the Korean Peninsula is on the brink of a thermonuclear war and current developments can pose grave challenges for the whole of the Asia-Pacific region.

The remarks come as the communist country has repeatedly said it will turn Seoul and Washington into a "sea of fire" and launch pre-emptive nuclear attacks against its enemies.

North Korea watchers in Seoul said the latest rhetoric is part of an ongoing effort by the North to ratchet up tensions on the peninsula.

Besides threatening to attack its enemies with nuclear weapons, Pyongyang nullified the Armistice Agreement that ended the Korean War (1950-53), saying it will no longer honor non-aggression pacts signed with South Korea and more recently said it would pull its workers out of the Kaesong Industrial Complex.

The complex located in North Korea is the only remaining economic link between the two countries, and its closure could act as a destabilizing force.

yonngong@yna.co.kr
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