South Korea’s defense ministry said Friday that the country will respond with counterattacks in the event of a provocation from the North. The statement follows shelling between the two countries Thursday, after which Pyongyang threatened full military action and leader Kim Jong-un ordered his troops to be ready for war.

Seoul said in a statement Friday, according to Yonhap, that it "will strongly retaliate against any kind of North Korean attacks and the North will have to take all the responsibility for such retaliative actions." The country also called shelling near the western border a clear violation of the armistice and non-aggression agreement, while the North denied firing shells. South Korea also ordered a civilian evacuation near the border following the attack.

South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo also held an emergency meeting of military commanders and told them to "respond resolutely" against any attacks from the North.

Meanwhile, South Korea's Ministry of Unification expressed skepticism over Pyongyang’s willingness for talks.

"We cannot help having doubts about North Korea's sincerity over holding dialogue with South Korea," ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-hee said Friday, according to Yonhap. Jeong described Pyongyang’s move as "covering up the heavens with one's palm."

While tensions escalate between the rivals, China's ambassador to Seoul Qiu Guohong asked both sides to practice restraint and resolve their issues. 

"We oppose unilateral provocation from any side," Qui said, according to Yonhap, adding: "We would like the South and the North to autonomously achieve a peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula through dialogue and cooperation."

North Korea’s central television network had reportedly said in a broadcast earlier Friday: “Commanders of the Korean People's Army were hastily dispatched to the front-line troops to command military operations to destroy psychological warfare tools if the enemy does not stop the propaganda broadcast within 48 hours and prepare against the enemy's possible counteractions."