Monday, March 29, 2010

Is North Korea threatening tourists to Panmunjom?

That seems to be what Pyongyang is saying. From Reuters:
North Korea warned on Monday of unpredictable disaster unless the South and the United States stop allowing tourists inside a heavily armed border buffer that is one of the most visited spots on the peninsula.

The warming comes as tensions were raised on the peninsula after a South Korean navy ship sank on Friday. Early reports that the North may have been involved spooked markets but were later played down when Seoul said it was almost certain Pyongyang had no part in the incident. [ID:nTOE62P0AP]

North Korea has made no mention of the ship-sinking incident in its official media.

An unnamed army spokesman of the North's Korean People's Army said South Korea was engaged in "deliberate acts to turn the DMZ into theatre of confrontation with the (North) and a site of psychological warfare" by allowing tours inside the border zone.
The story is also carried by Yonhap, the New York TimesBloomberg, the Chosun Ilbo, the Korea Times, and the Joongang Daily.

This sounds ominous, and Lord knows what they would try to do. Anyone who has taken the tour — and I've done so about half a dozen times — would know that while there is some palpable tension in Panmunjom, the tours are very routine despite some real-life shooting that has occurred in the past.

This makes me wonder if the North is not so much directing this at the sinking of the Chonan as they are addressing the possibility of someone like Robert Park making a scene in one of the few places where people from the South Korean side can cross — briefly and only in a confined space — into North Korea.

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