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North Korea threatens to attack Seoul; video shows nuclear strike on Washington

SEOUL — North Korea threatened Saturday to attack Seoul’s presidential palace unless South Korean President Park Geun-hye apologizes for ‘‘treason’’ and publicly executes officials responsible for what Pyongyang says are plans to attack its leadership.

The warning said the South Korean presidential palace is within striking range of the North’s artillery units, and that if an order to attack is made it is ‘‘just a click away.’’

North Korea aslo released a propaganda video that depicts a nuclear strike on Washington.

The 4-minute video clip, titled “Last Chance,” uses computer animation to show what looks like an intercontinental ballistic missile flying through the earth’s atmosphere before slamming into Washington, near what appears to be the Lincoln Memorial. A nuclear explosion follows.


“If the American imperialists provoke us a bit, we will not hesitate to slap them with a pre-emptive nuclear strike,” read the Korean subtitles in the video, which was uploaded to the YouTube channel of DPRK Today, a North Korean website. “The United States must choose! It’s up to you whether the nation called the United States exists on this planet or not.”

Such remarks are in line with recent threats and assertions from North Korea about its nuclear and missile capabilities.

The North recently threatened a nuclear strike against Washington in retaliation for new U.N. sanctions, which were imposed this month to punish North Korea for its most recent tests of a nuclear device and a long-range rocket.

The new video mostly chronicles what it calls “humiliating defeats” suffered by the United States at North Korea’s hands over the years, including the North’s capture in 1968 of a US ship, the Pueblo, and the shooting down of a US helicopter in 1994.

It goes on to depict a barrage of artillery, rockets and missiles — including a submarine-launched ballistic missile, which North Korea recently claimed to have successfully tested — and it ends with the US flag in flames.


Hatred for America has long been a prominent theme in North Korean propaganda, and as the North’s nuclear and missile programs have advanced in recent years, a sense of empowerment through those weapons has become another key element of the messaging.

The video released Saturday is not the first of its kind. North Korea released one in 2013 that showed Lower Manhattan being bombed, and another soon afterward that showed President Obama and US troops in flames.

The Saturday statement threatening to attack Seoul was issued by state media in the name of a unit of the Korean People’s Army. It was the latest in a barrage of threats against Washington and Seoul over joint military drills now underway that the North sees as a rehearsal for invasion.

The joint military exercises are held annually, but tensions are particularly high this year because the drills are bigger than ever and follow North Korea’s recent nuclear test and rocket launch.

Further angering Pyongyang have been reports in South Korean media that this year’s exercises include simulated training for a ‘‘decapitation strike’’ targeting North Korea’s top leaders.

North Korea is believed to have artillery capable of striking Seoul with little or no warning and causing severe damage and casualties in the city of 10 million. A strike on Seoul, however, is highly unlikely, and Pyongyang has previously issued similar threats without following through.


There were few signs Saturday of the heightened tensions in Pyongyang, where residents went about their daily routines as usual.

North Korea has been developing its nuclear weapons and missile capabilities, but is not believed to have perfected either enough to pose a credible threat to major US cities.

Under Kim’s regime, North Korea also has been clamping down on the use of smuggled-in mobile phones, which North Koreans use to gain access to China’s mobile networks.

The China phone links have been an important bridge between the North and the outside world. They connect North Koreans to relatives who have defected abroad, mostly to South Korea.