Kim Jong-un has put North Korea on a war footing and threatened "indiscriminate strikes" against the South if it doesn't agree to halt propaganda broadcasts by Saturday evening at 5pm.
Mr Kim claimed North Korea’s soldiers were in a “quasi-state of war” and ordered them to prepare for battle, according to state news outlet KCNA.
The country has threatened action unless South Korea stops its anti-Pyongyang broadcasts over the heavily fortified North-South border by 5pm (local time) on Saturday.
South Korea's defence ministry has warned that the nation will "strongly retaliate against any kind of North Korean attacks".
In an emergency meeting of the central military commission Mr Kim reportedly ordered North Korean troops to be "fully ready for any military operations at any time" from 5pm on Friday (local time).
Meanwhile, South Korean president Park Geun-hye chaired an emergency meeting of the National Security Council – and ordered a “stern response” to any further provocations, AFP reported.
Although similarly aggressive rhetoric has been made in the past, international observers have noted the use of heavy artillery shells with alarm.
The United Nations and US – which has 28,500 troops stationed in ally South Korea – have both expressed concern over the tension, and said they are monitoring the situation closely.
Since the armistice following the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, the two nations have maintained a tense demilitarized zone along their shared border.
It appears that the loudspeaker, broadcasting anti- Pyongyang messages over the border for the first time since 2004 after two soldiers were injured by a North Korean landmine, is at the root of the latest confrontation.
North Korea shelled the loudspeaker in protest, prompting South Korea to return fire with 155mm artillery rounds targeting a military post. There have been no reported injuries.
South Korea’s defence ministry confirmed the loudspeaker will continue broadcasting.
It comes as Yonhap News reported around 2,000 people have been evacuated from South Korean towns along the border.
Additional reporting by Associated Press
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