North Korea is prepared to unleash destruction without notice—except by fax machine

An “extra-large provocation” in Seoul
An “extra-large provocation” in Seoul
Image: Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji
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Pyongyang isn’t happy about recent anti-North Korea demonstrations in Seoul, so yesterday it warned its South Korean neighbors they had better stop—via a strongly worded fax.

The old-school transmission, which news agency Yonhap says came from the North’s National Defense Commission, was apparently prompted by rallies Tuesday in Seoul during which protesters burned effigies of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Pyongyang said those actions amounted to “repeated extra-large provocations to North Korea’s highest dignity,” a South Korea defense ministry spokesman told the Wall Street Journal. Such activities would be not tolerated, the letter said, and could result in “merciless retaliation without warning.” (The fax itself, it seems, did not count as a heads-up.)

The reclusive North is known for its bombastic rhetoric, usually delivered via its state-run news agency, which in past years has carried threats to shell Washington, DCturn Seoul into a sea of fire, and cut off the windpipes of former South Korean president Lee Myung-bak and others. But Pyongyang is fond of fax-based propaganda techniques as well, sending dispatches to South Korean workers in the jointly run Kaesong Industrial Zone, for example, that blamed Seoul for the factory park’s closure.