The government of Seoul is promising “pitiless penalty” and “a severe retaliation” against North Korea for the serious injury of two South Korean soldiers at the hands of what appear to be North Korean landmines, which the South Korean government believes were planted by North Koreans infiltrating the other side of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
“This is a clear provocation by the North Korean military. We swear a severe retaliation,” said South Korean military spokesman Kim Min-seok of the incident, in which two soldiers required amputations following the discovery of “wooden box” land mines on the South Korean side of the border. The New York Times notes that the two men, both staff sergeants, are still recovering from injuries. “One lost both legs in the first blast, involving two mines,” the newspaper notes, “The other soldier lost one leg in a second explosion as he tried to help his wounded colleague to safety.”
The incident has triggered the return of propaganda broadcasts from the south to the north. CNN notes this is the first time in 11 years that such messages have been broadcast. The messages typically attack the ruling Kim family as murderous tyrants and insist in justice for those whose human rights ruler Kim Jong-Un and his family have violated. CNN notes these broadcasts were also intended to inform North Koreans that their government had planted land mines in South Korea unprovoked, and rekindled tensions in a never-quite-stable diplomatic relationship.
The United Nations has “condemned” the incident.
In statements to South Korean Yonhap news agency, the South Korean military described the incident as “nasty behavior” and “a clear violation of the armistice agreement and the non-aggression agreements between the South and the North.” The typically vocal North Korean propaganda outfits have been notably silent on this specific issue, though have condemned generic South Korean aggression. An article quoting North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong accuses South Korea of being involved in a “vicious cycle of aggravating situation [sic]” and quotes Ri as demanding an end to “large scale joint military exercises are being conducted against the DPRK several times a year in south Korea and its vicinity.” “What the U.S. really wants is not the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula but the Americanization of the entire Korean peninsula,” Ri is quoted as saying.
South Korea and the United States have scheduled annual military joint exercises next week. Whether this attack will change the tenor of those exercises, or North Korea tries to sabotage them, remains to be seen.