North Korea Warns Foreigners In South Korea To Evacuate, But Many Are Staying Put

North Korea 1April2013
North Korea. Reuters

North Korea has intensified threats of conflict against South Korea yet again by telling foreigners to evacuate the South as war is imminent.

According to North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency, Pyongyang has announced that an impending “thermonuclear war” was looming, warning foreigners of an “all-out war, a merciless, sacred, retaliatory war to be waged.”

The statement, which was read out by a representative for an entity called the "Korean Asia-Pacific Peace Committee" in a television bulletin that interrupted regularly programming, served as a final warning for those living in the South; particularly foreigners that could “fall victim” to the strike.

“The committee informs all foreign institutions and enterprises and foreigners, including tourists… that they are requested to take measures for shelter and evacuation in advance for their safety.”

According to Reuters, no foreign embassies in Seoul have issued any procedures regarding an evacuation to their employees, nor have airlines reported any changes to their schedules out of Seoul, while international schools are continuing as usual.

“It is our current assessment that there is no immediate risk to British nationals in South Korea,” a British embassy spokesman said, echoing similar reactions from the U.S. and France.

A representative for the Philippines' foreign ministry said it's Seoul-based diplomats are saying the situation "remains normal and calm."

Cambodian exchange student Leng Daryna told EuroNews, “I’m not worried and I don’t think a war will break out. But my family and friends feel very scared.”

However, not all foreign entities are reacting to the warnings with inaction. General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) has warned that it is considering moving its South Korea operation in the longer term as a result of the relentless threats from the North.

According to Reuters, GM CEO Dan Akerson said that a contingency plan could be put in place to keep the employees at its four car-manufacturing plants and one transmission factory safe. South Korea is one of GM’s largest manufacturing bases, reportedly producing 40 percent of Chevrolet vehicles sold worldwide. 

The most recent announcement comes a day before North Korea’s five-day warning to diplomats and foreign envoys in Pyongyang to evacuate expires. On April 5, a generic letter was sent to embassies and other foreign entities in the North Korean capital, advising that they leave before April 10, after which their safety cannot be guaranteed.

KCNA did not elaborate on details of the strike but no additional signs of military buildup near the South Korean borders or coasts have been seen.

While threats continue, many experts still do not believe the North is equipped enough to develop an advanced nuclear device that could actually threaten South Korea.

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