North Korea warned its tough-talking neighbor on Sunday against holding more firing drills near a disputed maritime border off the west coast of the peninsula, accusing the South of being “hell-bent to set off a war.
Seoul has sharply increased its rhetoric over the past week, prompted by growing protests and public opinion polls critical of the conservative government’s perceived weak response to last month’s deadly shelling of Yeonpyeong island. South Korea’s military says it is preparing to stage more live-fire drills in the disputed area, possibly as soon as Monday, enraging Pyongyang, which said last month’s attack was set off by a similar drill when the South fired artillery shells into its waters. The South said those drills were harmless and regular, and that they were conducted on its side of the so-called Northern Limit Line (NLL). Tensions have risen to their highest level in decades on the divided peninsula after the attack, which came days after the North’s revelation it had made significant advances in its nuclear program. The foreign ministers of South Korea and Japan on Sunday left for Washington to meet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to discuss North Korea. They are expected to produce a statement condemning Pyongyang’s actions.