North Korea’s military on Sunday threatened to blow up balloons that South Korean activists plan to send over the heavily-militarised border carrying 10,000 DVDs of the satirical Hollywood film “The Interview”.
Activists plan to launch copies of the film – a comedy about a fictional CIA plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un – as well as 500,000 propaganda leaflets across the border on or around March 26.
Pyongyang has long condemned such balloon launches and threatened retaliation, and local residents have complained the activists are putting their lives at risk by making them potential targets.
“All the firepower strike means of the frontline units of the (Korean People’s Army) will launch without prior warning… to blow up balloons,” the North’s frontline military units said in a notice to the South.
It said the launch would constitute “the gravest politically-motivated provocation” against North Korea and “a de facto declaration of a war”, according to Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency.
The move is aimed at “deliberately escalating tension on the Korean peninsula where the situation has reached the brink of a war due to… joint war rehearsals” by South Korea and the United States, it said.
The South’s military said it would retaliate if the North opens fire on its territory.
But the North’s notice warned that any challenge to its “just physical countermeasures” will trigger “merciless retaliatory strikes”.
South Koreans living near the border are “recommended to evacuate in advance for their safety” if the balloons are launched, it said.