BEIJING – North Korea said Tuesday foreigners should leave South Korea or make preparations to take shelter, warning that the Korean Peninsula “is inching close to a thermonuclear war.”
The warning, issued in the name of the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, is the latest threat of war Pyongyang has unleashed against South Korea and the United States in recent days.
“The committee informs all foreign institutions and enterprises and foreigners including tourists in Seoul and all other parts of South Korea that they are requested to take measures for shelter and evacuation in advance for their safety,” the committee said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.
North Korea “does not want to see foreigners in South Korea fall victim to the war,” the statement said.
In Seoul, the Japanese Embassy said it has not issued any travel advisory urging Japanese nationals to leave the country.
“(The embassy) will continue to watch the situation and if necessary will update the information,” the embassy said in a statement posted on its official website.
China, a major benefactor of North Korea, expressed displeasure over the North’s statement, saying countries in the region should not take action that may escalate tension on the Korean Peninsula that is already running high.
“China opposes any party’s action that may escalate tension,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a news conference. “We also oppose any party’s action that may undermine peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula.”
In Tuesday’s statement, North Korea said that once a war is ignited on the peninsula, it will be an “all-out war,” or a “merciless sacred retaliatory war” to be waged by Pyongyang.
The Korean Peninsula “is inching close to a thermonuclear war due to the evermore undisguised hostile actions of the United States and the South Korean puppet warmongers and their moves for a war against the DPRK,” it said, using an acronym for the country’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Hong called for resumption of the six-party talks on ending North Korea’s nuclear ambitions “at an early date” so as to address each party’s concern in a balanced fashion.
Hong said China wants “peace, not war, dialogue, not confrontation, and relaxation, not tensions” on the Korean Peninsula.
“We call on all parties concerned to bear in mind a larger interest of regional peace and stability,” he said.
The six-nation negotiations involving North and South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the United States have been stalled since December 2008.