North Korea Issues Warning That Foreigners Should Leave South Korea

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On Tuesday, North Korea issued a warning to foreigners in South Korea, urging them to leave the country in order to avoid becoming involved in a "merciless, sacred, retaliatory war." Despite the threat, there have been no indications that North Korea has done anything to prepare its 1.2 million-strong army for war.

"It does not want to see foreigners in South Korea fall victim to the war," the KCNA news agency quoted the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee as saying. "The committee informs all foreign institutions and enterprises and foreigners, including tourists ... that they are requested to take measures for shelter and evacuation in advance for their safety."

The warning was issued during a bulletin that was aired on North Korean state television and interrupted normal programming. Foreign embassies in Seoul have not issued any orders to foreign diplomats asking them to leave, and airlines have not changed their schedules in any way as a result of the threat.  

A U.S. embassy official indicated that it was business as usual despite the threat. "Our workers are in all our offices today," he said. "We have not evacuated anyone."

This latest threat comes on the heels of the North ceasing activity at Kaesong, an industrial complex that was run as a joint operation between North and South Korea. Workers from the North did not show up at the facility on Tuesday. According to North Korea, South Korea is trying to turn Kaesong into a "hotbed of war,” Reuters reports.

The handling of the Kaesong situation is not appreciated by South Korea.

"Investment is all about being able to anticipate results and trust and when you have the North breaking international regulations and promises like this and suspending Kaesong while the world is watching, no country in the world will invest in the North," said South Korea’s president, Park Geun-hye. He added that the suspension was "very disappointing" and said that investors would now shun the North.

Sources: Reuters, The Guardian