Seoul: South Korea will strike back if it is attacked by North Korea, Defence Minister Kim Kwan-jin said here on Friday, shortly after Pyongyang renewed threats of attacks.
"We will completely destroy the source of attack" if North Korea strikes a border area north of Seoul where anti-North Korea activists plan to send propaganda leaflets across the border next week, the minister said.
The remark came shortly after North Korean military threatened in a statement to carry out a "merciless military strike" on the South Korean territory "the moment a minor movement for the scattering is captured" in the border area, reported Xinhua.
In the statement carried by the state-owned Korean Central News Agency, the North Korean army even advised residents in the border area to evacuate "in anticipation of possible damage".
North Korean defectors and activists have regularly launched giant balloons containing thousands of propaganda leaflets, which Pyongyang calls "an undisguised psychological warfare".
The threat came a day after South Korean President Lee Myung-bak paid a visit to an island near the tense maritime border. North Korea shelled the island two years ago, killing four South Koreans.
"Our goal is not to win a war but to deter provocation," Lee was quoted as saying by Yonhap News Agency. "We have already officially notified the North that we will not tolerate any future provocations."
The two Koreas remain technically at war with each other after their 1950-53 conflict ended with a truce, not a formal peace treaty.