If the recent bluster from Pyongyang has intended to test the newly-elected South Korean president Park Geun-hye, they have their answer today. Park warned that Seoul was preparing “a strong response,” as the US added another high-profile flyover to the joint military maneuvers:
The South Korean president on Monday warned North Korea that any provocative moves will be met with “a strong response” as the United States deployed stealth fighter jets in the tense region as part of joint military exercises.
“If there is any provocation against South Korea and its people, there should be a strong response in initial combat without any political considerations,” President Park Geun-hye said at a meeting with senior defense and security officials, according to her office.
Her comments came after North Korea rattled off fresh volleys of bombastic rhetoric over the weekend, declaring that it had entered a “state of war” with the South and labeling the U.S. mainland a “boiled pumpkin,” vulnerable to attack.
Admit it — Kim Jong-un’s pronouncements have a weird sort of charm to them. I’ve never heard of “boiled pumpkin” before, although I’d bet half of Kim’s people would pray for that much for dinner tonight.
Actually, that’s not all Park had to say. She warned the DPRK that she will defer to the military if any surprises arise. The US also sent another message to Pyongyang itself, one with a bit more directness:
The United States sent F-22 stealth fighter jets to South Korea on Sunday to join military exercises in a move aimed at further deterring threats from North Korea against its neighbor.
And on Monday South Korean President Park Geun-hye appeared to give her country’s military permission to strike back at any attack from the North without further word from Seoul, saying she took the North’s escalating threats “very seriously,” South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.
“As commander-in-chief of the armed forces, I will trust the military’s judgment on abrupt and surprise provocations by North Korea,” she said, according to Yonhap.
CNN followed up with this report which says … not too much, really, that hasn’t been said before. The two commentators mention, however, that the risk of the kind of mistake Park mentions has increased rapidly in the rhetorical explosion over the last couple of weeks. Still, CNN’s reporter in the South says that Americans aren’t packing up and fleeing the peninsula … yet. Maybe they’re sticking around for the boiled pumpkins.