The North says South Korea started this latest shouting match with propaganda loudspeakers resuming broadcasts stopped for more than a decade.
The South retorts it was in response to a landmine attack on two border guards. The north says stop or we prepare for war.
The armistice border has been rarely quiet since the 1950s. In 2010 nearly 50 sailors died and an island was bombarded in the last serious exchanges.
The latest tension is another reverse for anyone in the South arguing for trying to revive talks with the North. And the propaganda from Pyongyang sounds more unrelenting than usual.
“They should not forget that the KPA military action means indiscriminate strikes which envisage even possible engagement and escalating counteraction”
How different is this latest rise in border tensions? Missiles may be used against one or all of the South’s 12 loudspeaker sites, but that in itself would hardly be a reason for war to resume.
More likely would be a tit-for-tat exchange, as the North has resumed using its own loudspeakers, to allow everyone to save face.
The South is also currently holding its annual wargame with the USA, normally a moment when border issues can enflame or relations worsen, when the North often claims it is about to be attacked.
The only thing the North can be relied on to be is unreliable insists the South’s major ally.
“As always, we have an unstable, unpredictable, provocative North Korea that we have to be concerned with.” says General Ray Odierno, US army Chief of Staff.
There has been speculation Kim Jong-un may have a weaker hold on North Korea than previously thought. so sabre-rattling may now serve different people than before, or it may become more frequent.
But as usual really knowing anything about what goes on inside this most secretive country is all-but-impossible. These latest declarations are all part of the halting half-century dialogue between North and South Korea.