As the United Nations imposed new sanctions on North Korea aimed at curtailing its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and China, the isolated regime’s only major ally, said it wanted the measures fully implemented, an angry North Korea scrapped all peace pacts with South Korea and severed a hotline with Seoul.
The sanctions were approved just hours after North Korea threatened the United States with a pre-emptive nuclear strike, a largely empty warning since experts believe Pyongyang does not have the capability to hit the US mainland.
With tensions high on the Korean peninsula, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited military units on the frontline ahead of any potential clash with South Korea and the United States, which has 26,000 troops stationed in the South.
Pyongyang is known for its bellicose rhetoric, but the tone has reached a frenzied pitch in recent days, fueling concerns that it might trigger a border incident, with both North and South planning major military exercises next week, reported AFP.
Tension between the North and South Korea is more than half a century old. Here are some facts:
* It all started with the division of Korea at the end of World War II. Before the division Korea was ruled by the Empire of Japan, but after the war the North was ruled by the former USSR, while the US military occupied the southern half.
* On 25 June, 1950, a surprise attack by North Korean soldiers who crossed the 38th parallel easily overwhelmed South Korean forces. The United States leaped to the defense of the South. As South Korean, US and UN forces fought back and gained ground into North Korea, Chinese forces joined the war on the North's side later that year. (Read the CNN report)
* The Korean War ended with the signing of the Korean Armistice Agreement by UN Forces, North Korea and China on 27 July, 1953.
* The relationship between has also seen good days. During more friendly times, the two countries arranged emotional family reunions for those separated by the war in 2000, their leaders shook hands in a 2007 Pyongyang summit and ran freight trains across the border. South Korean president Kim Dae-jung won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000 for his efforts for "peace and reconciliation" with North Korea. (read the CNN report)
* However, North Korea has broken the peace agreement many times, including the Rangoon Bombing 9 October 1983.
* Another incident of violence was when the Korean Air Flight 858 blew up killing all passengers on board. A bomb was allegedly planted inside an overhead storage bin in the airplane's passenger cabin by North Korean agents.
* More recently, the North shelled the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong leaving two marines and two civilians dead. Pyongyang claimed Seoul provoked the 2010 attack by holding a military drill off their shared coast in the Yellow Sea. (Read the CNN report)
The relationship between the two countries soured further with the recent nuclear test by North Korea. South Korea pressed for tighter UN sanctions on North Korea since Pyongyang conducted its third nuclear test.
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Updated Date: Mar 13, 2013 14:49:33 IST