North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un has warned South Korean troops they have “no space to hide,” as Pyongyang’s state-run media released details Sunday of a rehearsal to attack Seoul’s Blue House.
Kim apparently oversaw the artillery and infiltration exercise before congratulating those involved.
“Well done, the enemy troops will have no space to hide themselves, far from taking any counteraction,” Kim was quoted as saying by the reclusive state’s KCNA news agency.
Just hours earlier, South Korea’s actual presidential office was surrounded by thousands of protesters in a seventh weekend of mass rallies aimed at ousting unpopular President Park Geun-hye, who was impeached over a power abuse scandal by Seoul’s parliament Friday.
Organizers claimed around 800,000 people demonstrated in the capital alone Saturday, despite the apparent victory of Park’s impeachment.
The South’s temporary leader, Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, has been openly concerned about North Korean provocations while the Constitutional Court decides whether to approve or block Park’s removal from office, which could take more than six months factoring in a snap election.
Pyongyang has been scathing about the conservative Park administration, which backed two rounds of sanctions against its neighbor this year for developing nuclear weapons.
The North may refrain from any serious provocations for now, however, because it could hurt the chances of warmer ties and even financial support under a future left-leaning president in South Korea.
The liberal administrations of Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun from 1998 to 2008 were marked by an unprecedented period of cooperation between the Koreas.
One possible contender to succeed Park is the Democratic Party’s Moon Jae-in, chief of staff under Roh and a consistent frontrunner in presidential polls.
Conservative hopes of staying in power appear slim for now, but that could change if ruling party lawmakers are able to rally around outgoing United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon should he confirm his reported desire to lead his native country.