South Korean military officials have obtained satellite photos of what appears to be a replica of Seoul’s presidential office, the Blue House (Cheongwadae), built in North Korea, apparently intended to be used for missile target practice.
South Korean news agency Yonhap cites an official within South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff as confirming the image of a building that, from above, looks like a miniature replica of the offices of President Park Geun-hye. “The North is likely to conduct an actual exercise in the near future,” the official said, using “large-scale artillery” to bomb the fake presidential office building.
The images also show “about 30 artillery pieces” in the area of the fake Cheongwadae, though it is unclear from the images what sorts of weaponry they are.
South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo notes that officials believe they may blow up the replica before the May 6 Workers’ Party Congress, the first since 1980, to “create unity” in the country against South Korea, the United States, and other free nations.
North Korean media have openly expressed the regime’s desire to attack the real Cheongwadae in Seoul. “All the dens of the enemy in South Korea, including the Cheong wa Dae, are the primary targets of the ultra-precision strike means,” North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said in a statement earlier this month. The island of Manhattan, New York, and Washington, D.C., have been described as secondary targets for a preemptive nuclear strike on the part of Pyongyang.
This statement reiterated statements in North Korean media months before expressing dictator Kim Jong-un’s desire to “scorch the Cheong wa Dae [presidential palace] bossed by Park Geun-hye in a jiffy.” The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), a state media operation, said in March, “All the service personnel and people of the DPRK are ready to immediately and mercilessly punish without slightest leniency, tolerance and patience anyone provoking the dignified supreme headquarters even a bit.”
In addition to these threats, North Korean television published a video in March depicting a nuclear blast over Manhattan and Washington, D.C., as well as the Cheongwadae. That video warned, “If the American imperialists provoke us a bit, we will not hesitate to slap them with a pre-emptive nuclear strike.”
The new threat against South Korea’s executive headquarters comes as South Korean intelligence officials confirm the second failed North Korean missile launch of the week. On Thursday, Kim Jong-un’s military attempted to launch what officials identified as a “Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM),” but failed, the missile crashing to the ground within minutes. “It is highly likely that the launch failed. With that in mind, South Korea and the United States are conducting a detailed assessment,” a South Korean “insider” told Yonhap.
“We strongly condemn these and North Korea’s other recent missile tests, which violate multiple U.N. Security Council Resolutions explicitly prohibiting North Korea from conducting launches using ballistic missile technology,” American State Department spokesperson Katina Adams told Yonhap following the second missile launch.
In its media Thursday, North Korea accused South Korea of attempting to start forest fires within its borders. According to an article in state newspaper Rodong Sinmun, “Balloons containing inflammable materials, timers and electric detonating devices were recently discovered in forests of Mt. Kumgang area, including Namae-ri and Onjong-ri of Kosong County, Kangwon Province and Hanwol-ri of Anak County, South Hwanghae Province.”
“It has been confirmed that these balloons were sent by the south Korean puppet group into areas of the north to set fire to its forests. This is the evil deed which could be perpetrated only by the confrontation maniacs utterly disregarding ethics and the nation,” the article continues. It provides no photographic or other evidence for the accusation, nor a motive on the part of Seoul for engaging in such behavior.