The South Korean president has ordered the country’s military to “swiftly and firmly punish” North Korea in the event of any provocation from Pyongyang, a significant escalation of the nation’s rhetoric towards its neighbour.
Yoon Suk-yeol was addressing commanders of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps at the Gyeryongdae military headquarters, with local media reporting the ominous message released in a statement by the president’s office following the meeting.
“The president ordered our military to swiftly and firmly punish North Korea in the event that it carries out a provocation,” Yonhap News Agency reported the statement as saying.
Tensions have been rising over the past 12 months on the Korean Peninsula, with both Seoul and Pyongyang have increasing military activity.
Last month, the US, South Korea, and Japan announced plans to work more closely on security issues and agreed to jointly counter threats from North Korea if it continues its nuclear testing program.
Kim Jong-Un’s regime for its part has put on various demonstrations of its military strength, eager to show preparation for any potential conflict.
Offers of dialogue from the US and South Korea in recent months have not been met with a response from Pyongyang. The lack of response was expected, with relations between the parties having been reduced to silence for a considerable time.