North Korea accused South Korea of attempting to persuade its ambassadors around the world to defect in a secretly ongoing international campaign Thursday, describing the purported move by Seoul’s Unification Ministry as "political terror." Officials claimed the South Korean government was spearheading an operation which included "viciously slandering our supreme leader and our socialist system," by sending propaganda ridiculing Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un to the reclusive nation’s ambassadors.

"This is clearly political terror, trying to cause social chaos and bloodshed inside a sovereign state," Ju Wang Hwan, a North Korean ministry official for the Institute for Disarment and Peace, said in an interview Thursday, the Associated Press reported. Hwan described a deliberate scheme by South Korea, including emails sent to North Korean ambassadors with propaganda appearing identical to North Korean official state media. Those messages allegedly included a call for North Korean officials to defect, as North Korean Deputy Ambassador to London Thae Yong Ho did in August. North Korea never disputed the ambassador’s defection, though the country typically claims defectors, like a group of female restaurant workers who left on their own will to China, were abducted by outsiders.

Whether North Korea's continued heightened rhetoric pointed toward Seoul could eventually result in armed military conflict or not, remains unclear.

RTX2VYJG North Korean leader Kim Jong Un guiding a firing contest among multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) batteries selected from large combined units of the KPA, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on Dec. 21, 2016. Photo: Reuters

South Korean officials reported the North was readying a new nuclear test earlier this month, stating the country was now capable of mounting warheads on ballistic missiles. The North has also been reportedly testing missile launches, including one appearing to happen on April 23, though the missile on traveled 30 kilometers.

"Assessment by South Korean and U.S. intelligence is that the North is always ready for an additional nuclear test in the Punggye-ri area," Moon Sang-gyun, a spokesman for the South Korean Defense Ministry, said in a press briefing in September. "North Korea has a tunnel where it can conduct an additional nuclear test."

Several unsuccessful missile launches by North Korea have been strongly condemned by the South and its allies. U.S. officials detected a failed missile launch in early November in the northwestern city of Kusong in North Korea.

"We strongly condemn this and North Korea's other recent missile tests, which violate UN Security Council Resolutions explicitly prohibiting North Korea's launches using ballistic missile technology," Navy Commander Gary Ross said in a statement after the incident. "We call on North Korea to refrain from actions that further raise tensions in the region and focus instead on taking concrete steps toward fulfilling its commitments and international obligations."

The South Korean government has denied having any involvement in North Korean defections, calling Pyongyang’s latest claims unfounded. Seoul Unification Ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-Hee said the North’s recent accusations were "groundless" and “distorted propaganda.