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(LEAD) Park vows to sternly deal with N. Korea's provocations

All Headlines 15:48 August 12, 2015

(ATTN: UPDATES with more comments by Park; ADDS background; photo)

SEOUL, Aug. 12 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye vowed Wednesday to sternly deal with North Korea's provocations as South Korea is weighing retaliation options against the North.

The warning came amid public outrage against North Korea over its land mine attack in the demilitarized zone that separates the two Koreas.

Two staff sergeants lost their legs -- one of them both legs and the other one leg -- when the land mines exploded on Aug. 4 during their patrol mission on the southern side of the buffer zone.

"We will sternly deal with North Korea's provocations," Park said in a meeting with independence fighters and their offspring at Cheong Wa Dae, South Korea's presidential office. "But at the same time, we will make every effort to ensure this kind of thing won't happen and establish peace."

The meeting came three days before South Korea commemorates the 70th anniversary of its independence from Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule.

She also renewed her calls for a peaceful unification with North Korea.

The Korean Peninsula was divided into the capitalistic South and communist North after its liberation from Japanese colonial rule. The peninsula is still at war as the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

Also Wednesday, Defense Minister Han Min-koo told lawmakers that he is weighing retaliation options against North Korea, though he did not elaborate.

On Monday, South Korea resumed a propaganda loudspeaker campaign along the tensely guarded border for the first time in 11 years, a psychological warfare tactic that could spark an angry reaction from North Korea.

North Korea believes that the influx of outside information could pose a threat to its leader Kim Jong-un.

In October, the two Koreas exchanged machine gun fire across the border after the North apparently tried to shoot down balloons carrying propaganda leaflets critical of North Korea.


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