North Korea said the Korean peninsula was headed for “thermo-nuclear” war and advised foreigners in South Korea to consider evacuation; Japan puts anti-North Korean missiles in Tokyo

N Korea urges South evacuation, warns of nuclear war

POSTED: 09 Apr 2013 2:28 PM
URL: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/n-korea-tells-foreigners/632736.html

North Korea said the Korean peninsula was headed for “thermo-nuclear” war and advised foreigners in South Korea to consider evacuation, in the latest in a series of apocalyptic threats.

SEOUL – North Korea said Tuesday the Korean peninsula was headed for “thermo-nuclear” war and advised foreigners in South Korea to consider evacuation, in the latest in a series of apocalyptic threats.

It followed a similar warning issued last week to foreign embassies in its capital Pyongyang to consider evacuating by April 10, saying it could not ensure the safety of their personnel if a conflict broke out.

“The situation on the Korean Peninsula is inching close to a thermonuclear war,” the North’s Asia-Pacific Peace Committee said in a statement carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency.

Saying it did not want to see foreigners in South Korea “fall victim”, the statement requested all foreign institutions, enterprises and tourists “to take measures for shelter and evacuation in advance for their safety”.The committee blamed the heightened war risk on the “warmongering US” and its South Korean “puppets” who were intent on invading the North.

The “thermo-nuclear war” threat has been wielded several times in recent months — most recently on March 7 — despite expert opinion that North Korea is nowhere near developing such an advanced nuclear device.

Last week’s warning to embassies was also largely dismissed as empty rhetoric, with most governments involved making it clear they had no plans to withdraw personnel from their Pyongyang missions.

“It’s almost comic,” Daniel Pinkston, a North Korea expert with the International Crisis Group, said of the latest threat.

“They want to rattle the investment market, create pressure and make people nervous.

“But it’s just not working. It’s as if they didn’t get a rise out of the embassies in Pyongyang, so they’re just moving on to the next target,” Pinkston said.

The South Korean stock market closed slightly up Tuesday, before the KCNA statement was published.

The Korean peninsula has been locked in a cycle of escalating military tensions since the North’s third nuclear test in February, which drew toughened UN sanctions.

Pyongyang’s bellicose rhetoric has reached fever pitch in recent weeks, with near-daily threats of attacks on US military bases and South Korea in response to ongoing South Korea-US military exercises.

There has been no significant foreign investment fallout in South Korea from the current crisis, and Tuesday’s threat was unlikely to cause any great consternation for a foreign community of around 1.4 million that has calmly weathered the rhetorical storm thus far.

Earlier Tuesday, North Korean workers followed Pyongyang’s order to boycott the Kaesong joint industrial zone with South Korea, signalling the possible demise of the sole surviving symbol of cross-border reconciliation.

“Not a single worker showed up this morning,” the manager of one of the 123 South Korean companies operating in Kaesong told reporters.

The North announced Monday it was taking the unprecedented step of pulling out its 53,000 workers and shutting the complex down indefinitely, following a tour of the zone by senior ruling party official Kim Yang-Gon.

Established in 2004, Kaesong has never been closed before. Pyongyang’s move reflects the depth of the current crisis on the Korean peninsula, which has otherwise been more notable for fiery rhetoric than action.

Located 10 kilometres (six miles) inside North Korea, Kaesong is a crucial hard currency source for the impoverished North, through taxes and revenues, and from its cut of the workers’ wages.

Turnover in 2012 was reported at $469.5 million, with accumulated turnover since 2004 standing at $1.98 billion.

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye said the North’s action on Kaesong was “very disappointing” and displayed a total disregard for investment norms that would return to haunt Pyongyang in the future.

“If North Korea, under the full eyes of the international community, breaches international rules and promises like this, then there will be no country or company which will invest in North Korea,” Park said.

Pyongyang has blocked South Korean access to Kaesong since Wednesday, forcing 13 South Korean firms to halt production.

Yu Chang-Geun, vice president of the association representing the South’s companies, said operations would have to be normalised swiftly to prevent permanent collateral damage.

“All firms have reached their limit. If things go on like this, all of us will face bankruptcy,” Yu said.

More than 300 South Korean workers have left Kaesong and returned to the South since North Korea banned access last week.

Of the 475 remaining, the Unification Ministry said 77 had signed up to leave on Tuesday.

Japan puts anti-North Korean missiles in Tokyo

POSTED: 09 Apr 2013 10:21 AM
URL: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/japan-puts-anti-north/632536.html

Japan has deployed Patriot missiles in its capital as it readies to defend the 30 million people who live in greater Tokyo from any North Korean attack.

TOKYO – Japan has deployed Patriot missiles in its capital as it readies to defend the 30 million people who live in greater Tokyo from any North Korean attack, officials said Tuesday.

Two Patriot Advanced Capability-3 surface-to-air missile launchers had been stationed at the defence ministry in Tokyo before dawn, a ministry spokesman said, while Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera said “we are proceeding with measures including deployment of PAC-3 as we are on alert”.

Local reports said PAC-3 will be deployed in another two locations in the greater Tokyo area.

Tokyo’s response thus far to the threats emanating from Pyongyang has been low key and Tuesday’s moves are the most visible yet that it is rattled.

“The government is making utmost efforts to protect our people’s lives and ensure their safety,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters Tuesday morning.

“As North Korea keeps making provocative comments, Japan, cooperating with relevant countries, will do what we have to do.

“For the moment, the most important thing is to implement sanctions under the UN Security Council resolutions,” Abe said.

PAC-3 batteries will also be installed in the semi-tropical island chain of Okinawa, Onodera told a television programme broadcast Monday.

He said Okinawa was “the place that is most effective in responding to emergencies… so we should deploy the unit in Okinawa on a permanent basis”.

Japan’s armed forces are authorised to shoot down any North Korean missile headed towards its territory, a defence ministry spokesman said Monday.

In addition to the PAC-3s, Aegis destroyers equipped with sea-based interceptor missiles have been deployed in the Sea of Japan (East Sea), the defence official said.

Tokyo’s moves came as North Korea said Monday it was withdrawing all workers and suspending operations at a lucrative joint industrial zone with South Korea, with reports of heightened activity at the North’s nuclear test site and at a missile battery.

North Korea’s bellicose rhetoric has reached fever pitch in recent weeks, with near-daily threats of attacks on US military bases including in Japan and South Korea in response to ongoing South Korea-US military exercises.

Intelligence reports suggest Pyongyang has readied two mid-range missiles on mobile launchers on its east coast and plans a test-firing before the April 15 birthday of late founding leader Kim Il-Sung.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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