North Korea’s military announced Monday it would soon take “special actions” targeting the conservative administration of President Lee Myung-bak. In a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency, the military said the actions would last for 3 to 4 minutes and consist of “unique methods of our own style,” without elaborating further on the means.
"Special actions by our revolutionary army will soon begin to crush reckless challenges by enemy forces,” an entity called the “special operational action unit” said.
“The target…will be the main enemy, Lee Myung-bak, and his followers including the conservative media.”
The threat comes amid a spate of unusually vitriolic criticism from the North against Lee, whom it called “human scum,” in recent days claiming that he criticized Pyongyang’s celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the birth of its late founder Kim Il-sung on April 15. The North has been under heavy criticism from the international community for launching a long-range rocket two days prior to this as part of the festivities for the landmark date. While Pyongyang said the move was to put a satellite into space, it was widely seen as a ballistic missile test.
Lee strongly urged the North against such provocations, saying it should have used the estimated $850 million cost to alleviate the suffering of the North Korean people instead. The launch resulted in a U.N. Security Council statement condemning it, which was backed by China, Pyongyang’s key ally.
“North Korea is feeling very uncomfortable after Lee’s criticism and the UNSC statement,” Bahng Tae-seop of the Samsung Economic Research Institute said. “This is its only way to express its anger.”
Earlier Monday the North’s foreign ministry accused Lee of "a hideous provocative act” and that any conflict on the peninsula would now “entirely rest with the traitor Lee." A Seoul official said the government was “very disappointed” with the North’s smear campaign and said the latest threat was “in line” with its anti-Lee rhetoric.
While the North’s methods remained unclear, some suggested it could involve a cyber attack after Pyongyang was fingered in such actions against major government and corporate websites here in 2009 and March 2010. Tensions have been high between the sides since 2008 when Lee rolled back a decade of engagement in favor of a harder line denuclearization policy. This soared two years later after Pyongyang launched two deadly attacks.
Lee also warned last week that the North’s continued provocations had caused Seoul and Beijing to work closer together, saying Pyongyang wasn’t happy about “being pushed aside.”
Many analysts have speculated the North could engage in a military act in a bid to bolster the credentials of its twenty-something leader Kim Jong-un, who took over after the death of his father Kim Jong-il. The isolated North repeated its long-running threat to turn Seoul in to a “sea of fire” last month, in what was seen as saber-rattling to effect domestic politics ahead of National Assembly elections.