Seoul (dpa) – High-level teams from North and South Korea were set to
meet at the truce village of Panmunjom Saturday in an attempt to tamp
down tensions following an exchange of gunfire this week that had let
the North to threaten “all-out war.”

South Korea was to send national security adviser Kim Kwan Jin along
with representatives of the Defence Ministry. The North was to send
Kim Yang Gon, an official with the Workers’ Party of Korea who
specializes in South Korea issues as well as the chief of the Korean
People’s Army, Vice Marshal Hwang Pyong So.

Hwang is considered a close confidante of the country’s leader, Kim
Jong Un.

Tensions have mounted in recent days. South Korea resumed the
operation of loudspeakers broadcasting propaganda across the border
in retaliation for a land mine laid by North Korean forces that blew
the legs off two South Korean troops. The situation has spiraled
downward since, leading to the exchange of shots and the threats of
war.

North Korea intensified its threats of war Saturday, calling the
situation “hardly controllable.” It also gave an ultimatum to Seoul
to halt all provocations of sending propaganda across the border.

“Our military and people are prepared to risk their lives in an
all-out war, to defend the system our people choose,” the Foreign
Ministry said on the official Korean Central News Agency, in comments
before the announcement of the Panmunjom talks.

Earlier Saturday, the South Korean Yonhap news agency said Pyongyang
was making preparations for possible military strikes. Military
sources said Northern forces were erecting additional artillery
batteries north of the demilitarized zone.

Kim Jong Un declared a “quasi-war status” and ordered frontline army
units to be fully battle ready.

An Myong Hun, North Korea’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations,
said in New York Friday that South Korea must stop the propaganda
broadcasts within 48 hours or face military retaliation.