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NKorea threatens to turn South Korea into 'debris'

NKorea threatens to turn South Korea into 'debris'

North Korea's military warned Tuesday it would attack South Korea and reduce it to "debris" if Seoul continues what it says are confrontational activities against the communist country.
The threat comes a day after North Korea demanded during brief talks at the border that South Korea stop the flow of propaganda into the communist North _ even as activists sent tens of thousands of anti-Pyongyang leaflets fluttering north Monday.
In its threat Tuesday, the North threatened to cut off all ties if the "confrontational racket" continues. Pyongyang cited a South Korean general's recent threats to launch a pre-emptive strike against its nuclear sites and the propaganda leaflets.
"The puppet authorities had better remember that the advanced pre-emptive strike of our own style will reduce everything opposed to the nation and reunification to debris, not just setting them on fire," the North's military said in a statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency.
Relations between the two Koreas have been tense since South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's conservative government took office in February pledging to get tough with Pyongyang. The two sides had no official contact until a military meeting earlier this month, and Monday's 20-minute talks.
Earlier this month, Gen. Kim Tae-young, chairman of South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a parliamentary committee that his military was prepared to attack suspected nuclear sites in North Korea if the communist country attempts to use its atomic weapons on the South.
North Korea has demanded that South Korea stop activists from sending balloons carrying leaflets critical of the communist regime across the border, saying the flyers violate a 2004 inter-Korean accord banning propaganda warfare.
The South Korean government has stopped official propaganda but says it cannot prohibit activists from sending the leaflets, citing freedom of speech.
Defying Pyongyang's demands, South Korean activists on Monday sent helium balloons carrying 100,000 leaflets to the North. Some noted Kim's reported health troubles and called for the North Korean people to rise up against the authoritarian leader.
The North said it also was offended by recent comments by South Korean Defense Minister Lee Sang-hee about its leader Kim Jong Il's health.
South Korean Defense Minister Lee Sang-hee told a news conference in Washington earlier this month that both the U.S. and South Korea believed Kim Jong Il remained in control, adding: "If we show him too much attention, then we might spoil him."
U.S. and South Korean officials say Kim suffered a stroke and underwent brain surgery, reportedly in mid-August, but the North has denied there is anything wrong with the 66-year-old leader.
On Tuesday, South Korea's spy chief told lawmakers that Kim _ though "not physically perfect" _ appears to be recovering from his stroke and is running the country without difficulty.
National Intelligence Service chief Kim Sung-ho made the remarks during a closed-door session with a parliamentary committee, according to Rep. Park Young-sun of the opposition Democratic Party.
North Korea denies Kim is ill.
The two Koreas technically remain at war because the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.
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Associated Press Writer Kwang-tae Kim contributed to this report.