North Korea has cut off a humanitarian hotline with the South and torn up the armistice that ended the Korean War in the 1950s. As tension escalates, the US has announced more sanctions following a UN vote last week to expand measures against Pyongyang after its latest nuclear test in February.
The Red Cross hotline has been used by both North and South Korea for general communication and to discuss aid shipments.
North Korean state-run TV showed images of mass rallies in several parts of the country. It is not clear exactly when they took place, but thousands of soldiers and civilians turned out to denounce the country’s enemies. A military general in the southern Hangyong province told the crowd: “US imperialists and their puppet warmongers should realise who they’re dealing with”.
Pyongyang has threatened a nuclear strike over annual military exercises currently taking place between the South and the US. The joint drills involving 10,000 South Korean and 3,500 American troops are due to last two weeks.
The South Korean capital saw demonstrations against the military drills on Monday, with protesters calling for peace talks.
Despite the war of words some analysts believe an actual clash is unlikely, seeing the North’s belligerence as an attempt to forge national unity and force the South and the US to engage in dialogue.