North Korea threatens a 'terrible disaster'


South Koreans watch TV news reports of North Korea's apparent nuclear test, Feb. 12, 2013.


Kim Jae-Hwan

It’s almost an age-old tradition: North Korea gets upset over a joint military exercise between the US and South Korea, and vents its anger in a couple vague war threats.

The North Korean regime did just that Tuesday, threatening a “terrible disaster” should Washington, Seoul and Tokyo move forward with a trilateral naval exercise.

The drill was supposed to start Tuesday and conclude on Thursday, but an approaching typhoon prompted a last-minute delay. The South Korean Ministry of Defense has not released the new dates.

After a summer of relative silence, the world’s most heavily sanctioned regime has been raising the volume this month.

On Oct. 4, the national military body announced it would continue to pursue nuclear weapons — an announcement that comes fresh on evidence that the garrison state has restarted its Yongbyon nuclear reactor.

Experts say the complex, located in the country’s northeast, can produce enough weapons-grade plutonium to make about one atomic bomb a year.

That’s not the only blunt talk. On Friday, the North Korean military commission mentioned South Korean president Park Geun-hye by name, asserting that she would be an “imbecile” to “side with a nuclear-wielding robber… to lower the first knife,” ostensibly referring to Washington.

North Korea occasionally lobs biting remarks at Park, the country’s first female president. In March, state media complained about the “venomous swish of her skirt,” a sexist swipe in Korea, referring to an overbearing, typically middle-aged woman.

It may sound like a foolish way of conducting diplomacy, but North Korea is known for clownish writing. On Monday, after the Swiss government blocked the sale of ski lifts to North Korea (citing United Nations sanctions), the state news agency retorted that Pyongyang is the victim of a “serious human rights abuse.”

At least Kim Jong Un has his priorities straight.