SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea's defense minister on Friday vowed massive retaliatory missile strikes on “the heart and head” of North Korea in the event of provocation, as the rivals escalate their rhetoric over their respective spy satellite launches in recent days.
The South Korean warning — unusually fiery rhetoric by Seoul directed at Pyongyang — came as the top security advisers from South Korea, the U.S. and Japan gathered in Seoul for talks to discuss North Korea's evolving nuclear threats and other issues.
During a visit to the army's missile strategic command, South Korean Defense Minister Shin Wonsik ordered command officers to maintain a readiness to fire precision-guided and powerful missiles at any time, according to his ministry.
Shin said the main role of the command is “lethally striking the heart and head of the enemy, though the types of its provocations can vary,” a ministry statement said.
Animosities between the two Koreas deepened after North Korea launched its first military reconnaissance satellite into space on Nov. 21 in violation of U.N. bans. South Korea, the U.S. and Japan strongly condemned the launch, viewing it as an attempt by the North to improve its missile technology as well as establish a space-surveillance system.
South Korea announced plans to resume front-line aerial surveillance in response. North Korea quickly retaliated by restoring border guard posts,…