SEOUL, South Korea – Below, the Associated Press' bureau chiefs for North and South Korea discuss the North's stated plans to send test missiles close to the U.S. territory of Guam, and President Donald Trump's vow to unleash "fire and fury" on Pyongyang if it continues to threaten America.
HOW DID WE GET TO THIS POINT?
Eric Talmadge, AP Pyongyang bureau chief:
"We've been seeing a rapid escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula over the past week. The escalation began with the announcement of new sanctions on North Korea and was followed very quickly by a report that the U.S. intelligence services believed North Korea may now be able to put a nuclear warhead on its long-range ballistic missiles, potentially with a range that could put U.S. cities in its target striking distance. Now that was also followed by some very fiery rhetoric from President Donald Trump and North Korea, in turn responded with the announcement of a plan to potentially launch four intermediate-range ballistic missiles towards the U.S. territory of Guam, which is a major military hub in the Pacific and also home to 160,000 American citizens. If that plan is actually carried out, which could potentially come in the next few days, that would raise tensions to a level that we have not seen in many years."
HOW ARE SOUTH KOREANS REACTING TO THE INCREASED TENSIONS?
Foster Klug, AP Seoul bureau chief:
"It is a cliche but true. When the rest of the world panics over North Korea, South Koreans tend to shrug. The reason for this is the fact that South Koreans have lived with this tension for decades. The Korean Peninsula was divided in 1945. Three years later, the two countries were formed. Two years after, they fought a bloody, three-year war. Ever since, there has been a cold-war style stand-off."
WHAT DOES SEOUL THINK OF TRUMP'S RHETORIC?
"The South Korean government tends to react with heat when North Korea provokes, as they did recently. Donald Trump has introduced a new wrinkle to this dynamic. When he made his recent, North Korea-style threat to unleash fire and fury on the North, the South Korean government said nothing. The people, however, expressed worry and even anger over his comments."