SEOUL -- North Korea's military has warned South Korea of possible "physical confrontation" if Seoul fails to provide more economic assistance.
According to a report by the state-run Korean Central News Agency, a North Korean delegation involved in military talks with its southern neighbor issued a document on Oct. 8 warning Seoul to "choose between reconciliation and cooperation or physical confrontation."
The threat leaves open the possibility that Pyongyang could shift toward a more hard-line stance if it does not obtain widespread assistance from Seoul.
The document criticized South Korea for violating North Korean territorial waters and for distributing leaflets criticizing the North Korean regime.
The document stated, "We are preparing a fully established structure because the provocative war actions of the South have made a physical response unavoidable."
According to South Korean government sources, Seoul has promoted small-scale humanitarian assistance to North Korea as well as an expansion of exchanges between nongovernmental organizations to prevent military provocations by Pyongyang.
North Korea, which is seeking massive assistance, also appears to be playing a war of nerves because the document made no mention that South Korea had prepared a total of 5 billion won (about 330 million yen, or $4.3 million) in assistance for recent flooding in North Korea.
Some officials within the South Korean government believe the increasingly harsh tone represents a confrontation course shaping up in North Korea between those favoring a hard-line stance, centered on the military, and those calling for dialogue. That confrontation is likely related to the succession issue of Kim Jong Il.
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