MOSCOW, March 30 (RIA Novosti) – Recent media reports that North Korea had declared a “state of war” with South Korea might have been based on a mistranslation, Russian media reported on Saturday.
International media reported the North Korean statement, published on the country's state news agency KCNA, as reading that North Korea “is entering a state of war” with South Korea, and that all issues between the neighboring countries will be handled in accordance with wartime protocol.
On Saturday, the AFP news agency cited the same North Korean statement as saying "The long-standing situation of the Korean peninsula being neither at peace nor at war is finally over."
Later on Saturday, however, Russian media reported that a faulty translation might have been to blame for this apparent uptick in bellicose rhetoric.
The North Korean original statement apparently stressed that the country would act "in accordance with wartime laws" if attacked, and that "from that time, North-South relations will enter a state of war."
North and South Korea are not technically "at peace" since no peace treaty was signed following the Korean War in 1953. The Demilitarized Zone between the countries is the most heavily armed border in the world.
On March 11, South Korea and the United States began annual large-scale military exercises, codenamed Key Resolve. The drills involve 10,000 South Korean and 3,500 US troops.
Prior to the exercises, Pyongyang threatened the United States with a preemptive nuclear strike amid warnings that it plans to terminate the Korean War Armistice Agreement.
It warned of retaliatory countermeasures if the United States and South Korea went ahead with the drills.
The United States on Thursday dispatched two nuclear-capable B-2 stealth bombers on an “extended deterrence” practice run over South Korea.
US officials said the exercise should serve “to demonstrate very clearly the resolve of the United States to deter against aggression on the Korean Peninsula.”
North Korea responded on Friday by placing its strategic rocket forces on standby to strike US and South Korean targets.
Russian media reported that South Korean news agency Yonhap had cited unnamed military sources as saying that “no special deployments of North Korean forces had been observed, despite this threatening rhetoric.”
There has been no further clarification from North Korea.