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(LEAD) N. Korea will pay price if it takes actual military action: defense ministry

North Korea 11:32 June 17, 2020

(ATTN: RECASTS slug, headline, lead, throughout with defense ministry's reaction)

SEOUL, June 17 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's military warned Wednesday it will make sure that North Korea "pays the price" if it actually takes military action against the South.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff statement came hours after North Korea said it will redeploy troops to an inter-Korean industrial park in the western border town of Kaesong and the Mount Kumgang joint tourism zone on the east coast.

The North also said it will restore guard posts removed from the Demilitarized Zone separating the two sides and resume all kinds of regular military exercises near the inter-Korean border in an apparent move to abolish a military tension-reduction deal signed in 2018.

"These moves thwart two decades of efforts by South and North Korea to improve inter-Korean relations and to keep peace on the Korean Peninsula. If the North actually takes such a move, it will certainly pay the price for it," Jeon Dong-jin, director of operations at the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said.

Earlier, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's powerful sister, Kim Yo-jong, threatened to scrap the deal altogether in anger over anti-Pyongyang leaflets sent across the border by activists here.

The younger Kim said Seoul should get ready for the "scrapping of the North-South agreement in military field which is hardly of any value" if it fails to take corresponding steps for the leaflet campaigns.

After a series of statements ratcheting up tensions on the peninsula, the North blew up an inter-Koran joint liaison office in the western border town of Kaesong on Tuesday.

"Regarding the current security situation, our military is closely monitoring the North Korean military moves round-the-clock and maintains a staunch readiness posture. We will continue to make efforts to manage the situation stably to prevent this from escalating into a military crisis," Jeon said.

South Korean Marines patrol a perimeter fence on Yeonpyeong Island in the Yellow Sea just south of the Northern Limit Line, the inter-Korean maritime border, on June 16, 2020. South Korea's military said it is ready to respond to any North Korean provocation after Pyongyang blew up the inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong earlier in the day. (Yonhap)


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