It's the latest installment in a week of furious rhetoric from the North, fueled by its anger over the U.N. vote on the new sanctions, a response to the Pyongyang's recent nuclear test, and joint military drills by the United States and South Korea, which take place in the region each year.
North Korea watchers and U.S. officials say that the recent frenzy of ominous language from North Korea under its young leader Kim Jong Un makes the situation on the Korean Peninsula more worrying and unpredictable. South Korea has warned the North that it will retaliate strongly and sternly if its citizens are threatened.
"This surge in provocative rhetoric is particularly dangerous," said Michael Auslin of the American Enterprise Institute. "South Korea's new president (Park Geun Hye) can't be seen to back down in the face of the North's threats, while Kim Jong Un may feel that his successful missile and nuclear tests give him the ability to keep pressuring Seoul. The two may wind up talking themselves into conflict."
South Korean President Park Geun-hye, who took office late last month, said Friday that Seoul would respond strongly to any provocation from Pyongyang, the semiofficial news agency Yonhap reported. The possibility of flare up was highlighted by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, which predicted a provocative move from the North "in the coming weeks." The center said that according to its research, Pyongyang has carried out "a military provocation of some form within weeks of every South Korean presidential inauguration dating back to 1992." A military clash could risk drawing in the United States, which has about 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea as part of the security alliance between the two countries.