Threatening letter, knife sent to South Korean minister

SEOUL (AFP) - South Korean police and military officials have launched a joint investigation into a letter threatening to "execute" the country's defence minister, officials said on Friday.

The letter and a kitchen knife were found by a delivery man last week when he tried to re-pack a torn parcel addressed to Defence Minster Han Min Koo, the defence ministry said.

"Through our investigation, we are trying to determine whether North Korea has been involved," a ministry spokesman told AFP.

The minister has vowed to take strong action against any provocations by North Korea, which has conducted a series of missile and rocket tests in recent months.

Pyongyang has issued a series of blistering threats against Han, the ministry said.

The letter, sent by the "International Peace Action Corps", threatened to punish Han and his family, condemning the minister for his perceived hardline stance against North Korea, the ministry said, adding that the organisation was non-existent.

It also accused Han of bringing "a fire cloud of a nuclear war to the Korean peninsula".

The ministry said the knife had red letters reading "Han Min Koo" on one side, and "Execution" on the other side.

UN resolutions bar North Korea from conducting any launches using ballistic missile technology. But the North has defended the missile launches as a legitimate exercise in self-defence and a response to US war manoeuvres.

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