Photograph by Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images.
North Korea isn't letting its failed rocket launch stop it from talking tough.
The reclusive nation on Monday threatened unspecified "special actions" against South Korea that would turn parts of Seoul into ashes. In a statement released by its official state-run media, North Korean leaders vowed to "reduce all ... to ashes in three or four minutes ... by unprecedented peculiar means and methods of our own style."
The AFP notes that the North's posture toward its southern neighbor has grown increasing hostile over the past few months, with officials criticizing South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak and threatening "sacred war" over perceived insults.
The Washington Post notes that the South Korean president has been the focus of harsh rhetoric from the North for years, especially after his decision to end the generous aid packages of his predecessors. Recent articles from the North’s state-run news agency have called him "human scum" and an "underwit with 2MB of knowledge."
The latest threats come after weeks of increasingly belligerent language—thousands of North Koreans and army members pledged during a Pyongyang rally on Friday to "wipe out" Lee and his allies—leading some analysts to believe that newly instated leader Kim Jong-un may lead a military provocation in order "to establish [his] authority at home and boost his negotiating leverage with the United States," in the words of the New York Times.
Seoul has since stuck to its policy of not responding to such threats, which come in the wake of North Korea’s internationally decried and ultimately failed attempt to put a satellite into orbit on April 13. Lee had criticized that launch as a waste of money that could have been used to feed North Korea’s poor.
Meanwhile, not everyone is convinced of the severity of North Korea’s threats. For more analysis, check out Fred Kaplan’s take here.