South Korea warns North over drill targeting Blue House

North Korea's special operations forces conducting a drill aimed at "destroying specified targets of the enemy", including Seoul's presidential Blue House. No date was given for the exercise in a report by KCNA news agency. North Korean newspaper Rod
North Korea's special operations forces conducting a drill aimed at "destroying specified targets of the enemy", including Seoul's presidential Blue House. No date was given for the exercise in a report by KCNA news agency.PHOTO: REUTERS
North Korea's special operations forces conducting a drill aimed at "destroying specified targets of the enemy", including Seoul's presidential Blue House. No date was given for the exercise in a report by KCNA news agency. North Korean newspaper Rod
North Korean newspaper Rodong Sinmun also carried a two-page report on the drill, showing pictures of a building resembling the South Korean presidential Blue House being overrun by North Korean troops and set ablaze.PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL • South Korea warned yesterday of "fatal" consequences for Pyongyang's leadership if it is provoked into conflict, after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw a military drill simulating an attack on Seoul's presidential Blue House.

Mr Kim watched with binoculars as North Korea's special operations forces conducted a drill aimed at "destroying specified targets of the enemy", including the Blue House, said the North's KCNA news agency.

The ruling Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun also carried a two-page report on the exercise, showing pictures of a building resembling the Blue House being overrun by North Korean troops and set ablaze. One photograph showed Mr Kim roaring with laughter as he watched the simulated attack.

"Well done, the enemy troops will have no space to hide themselves, far from taking any counter- action," the state-run KCNA quoted Mr Kim as saying.

No date was given for the military exercise in yesterday's report.

South Korea's military strongly condemned the drill, warning that there would be fatal consequences if it is confronted by the North.

"If the enemy conducts a provocation based on its rash judgment, we will strongly and firmly retaliate with a fatal blow against the North Korean leadership," the South Korean Defence Ministry's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

There are growing concerns of fresh provocations by Pyongyang following last Friday's impeachment of South Korean President Park Geun Hye, which has left the nation without a recognised leader.

South Korean Prime Minister Hwang Kyo Ahn, who has temporarily taken on the role and authority of acting president, held an emergency Cabinet meeting on Saturday and ordered the military to be extra vigilant against the North.

"Up until now... no special development from North Korea has been reported. But all civil servants should work with a sense of tension for the time being," he said.

The United States, which has about 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea, was in close contact with South Korea and remained a strong ally, the White House said late on Friday.

North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests this year and multiple missile launches in its push for a weapon capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the US mainland.

The United Nations Security Council imposed its toughest sanctions yet on the North last month over its fifth nuclear test in September, capping the North's annual coal exports - its top external revenue source.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 12, 2016, with the headline 'South Korea warns North over drill targeting Blue House'. Print Edition | Subscribe