The tension between North and South Korea is palpable, and though threats from the Hermit Kingdom have often been empty rhetoric in the past, this is the first standoff involving its young and untested leader — Kim Jong-un.
Gen. James Thurman, the top U.S. commander in South Korea, recently toured the demilitarized zone between the two nations with ABC News’ Martha Raddatz. Thurman told Raddatz that he sees the situation between the two countries as “volatile” and “dangerous.”
“If they decided to, you know, resume hostilities, I think we’ve got to be ready to go,” Thurman told Raddatz. “Readiness is number one. If you ask every one of these soldiers that are out here, it’s about fighting tonight. It’s not a bumper sticker; we’ve got to be able to do that.”
Thurman said it’s hard to judge exactly what Kim Jong-un intends to do, but hopes he doesn’t make an “impulsive decision” that causes “kinetic provocation” — military-speak for talk finally escalating into combat.
“He’s trying to intimidate the South Koreans and intimidate the region, and we’re not gonna let that happen,” Thurman said.
In recent days, the North has threatened nuclear war against the U.S. — despite being years from that capability — declared a “state of war” against the South without firing a shot, and, most recently, closed access to the Kaesong industrial facility — a “safe zone” where more than 50,000 North Koreans work under South Korean management.
You can watch the full interview and tour of the border area below, via ABC:
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