Monday, December 19, 2011

North Korean Leader Kim Jong-II Dies at 69 -- North and South Korea at the Brink of War?

SEOUL, South Korea (Dec. 19) – South Korean military is kept on alert after the revelation of death news of North Korean leader Kim Jong-II on Monday. Although the South Korean President Myung-Bak Lee has advised the nation to stay calm while the country’s military has increased the air surveillance of borders.

North Korean Leader Kim Jong-II Dies at 69
President Lee had a 2-hour long phone conversation with U.S. President Barack Obama after Kim's death was announced by the North Korea's state media at noon (03:00 GMT).

"The two leaders agreed to closely co-operate and monitor the situation together," a presidential spokesperson said.

According to Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) spokesperson; Seoul also wanted its U.S. ally, which places 28,500 troops in the South, to enhance surveillance by planes and satellites.

A defence ministry spokesperson ahs also confirmed the situation telling that their military was keeping an eye over the North Korea’s military movements and the monitoring and defense on the borders has been strengthened.

"All commanders are on alert and the South and U.S. are beefing up the sharing of military intelligence. There have been no particular moves by the North's military yet," spokesperson said further.

All government officials have been put on emergency response status, according to President Lee, which means that they can’t take leave and restricted from traveling.

The North Korea's state media reported earlier on Monday that the 69-year-old Kim died of a heart attack on Saturday while on board a train during one of his field trips.

Lee called a National Security Council meeting at the presidential Blue House and an emergency cabinet meeting was to begin at 15:00 (06:00 GMT). "All Blue House officials are in emergency mode," his spokesperson said.

North and South Korea have remained technically at war since their three-year Korean conflict ended only in an armistice in 1953.

Relations have been especially tense since the South accused the North of sinking a warship in March 2010 with the loss of 46 lives.

The North denied involvement in the sinking but shelled a South Korean island in November 2010, killing four people.

Many units in the North's 1.1 million-strong armed forces are stationed close to the heavily fortified border, along with thousands of missiles.

US troops have been based in the South since 1953 to bolster the South's military, which currently numbers 650 000.

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