North Korea-South Korea: North Korea on Monday warned of 'merciless firing' against the South if it goes ahead with a reported plan to develop shells to carry anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border. "This is another intolerable challenge to the DPRK (North Korea)," the Secretariat of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said in a statement carried by the North's official news agency, Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
"We will never tolerate the foolish acts of the puppet warmongers but wipe out the provokers with merciless firing. We will deal a telling blow at the (South Korean) army to make it pay a very high price for its foolish provocation as it is keen on staging 'psychological warfare against the North' in alignment with human scum."
The South'sJ oong-Ang Ilbo newspaper reported last week that South Korean troops were developing non-explosive hollow shells capable of carrying such leaflets deep into North Korean territory.
Comment: The South Korean government has not confirmed the newspaper story. Both sides indulge in propaganda battles, but prevailing winds seasonally appear to favor blowing anti-Kim propaganda balloons northward. North Korean defectors to South Korea and supporting groups - the so-called "human scum" mentioned above - often take the lead in the cross-border leaflet spreading effort.
The significance of the North's outburst is the incongruity of merciless firing in retaliation for non-explosive rounds that shoot paper, as in a circus act. The North's anti-South Korea propaganda is going hyper again.
Update on Kaesong. Progress towards internationalizing the industrial complex in cooperation with South Korea remains frozen. Meanwhile the North apparently is pushing ahead its programs to develop industrial parks, modeled on Kaesong, in other provinces but with South Korean investment.
Comment: The opening of a new swimming park, work at the ski resort and the North's pressure to reopen the Mount Kumgang resort all point to a strategic decision to remake the image of North Korea as a magnet for tourists. Not all the kinks - such as building a reliable utilities infrastructure and security sequestration of foreign tourists from North Koreans - appear to have been thought through, much less worked out. It is not clear, moreover, that the North has performed market studies to determine whether North Korea's vision of a tourism mecca could achieve a reasonable return on investment.
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