S. Korea tightens media security after N. Korea threat

SEOUL - South Korean police have tightened security around major TV stations and newspapers after North Korea threatened "special actions" to attack them, an officer said Tuesday.

The North's military Monday vowed to turn parts of Seoul into ashes, accusing the conservative President Lee Myung-Bak and several media outlets of defaming its leadership and distorting public opinion in the South.

It said the unspecified actions targeting "the Lee Myung-Bak group of traitors... and conservative media" will "reduce all... to ashes in three or four minutes... by unprecedented peculiar means and methods of our own style".

Police have deployed some 200 officers around the Dong-A Ilbo newspaper as well as the KBS, MBC and YTN TV stations cited in the North's statement, a police officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The North has for months been criticising the South's President Lee Myung-Bak in extreme terms and threatening "sacred war" over perceived insults.

There have been no incidents but the language, including descriptions of Lee's government as "rats" and "traitors", has become increasingly vitriolic.

The North alleged Monday that "paid conservative media which had long been reduced to a waiting maid of the group of traitors, worked with bloodshot eyes to build up public opinion in favour of the rats' group".

Police have also been posted around two other conservative newspapers - Chosun Ilbo and JoongAng Ilbo - as part of heightened security, the officer said without elaborating.

The communist state under new young leader Kim Jong-Un has ratcheted up hostility towards Seoul, since Lee last week criticised the North's botched rocket launch on April 13 and urged it to carry out agriculture reforms.

Lee said the estimated $850 million cost of the launch could have bought 2.5 million tonnes of corn for its hungry people.

Pyongyang staged what it called a satellite launch as part of massive celebrations for the centenary of its late founding president and Kim Jong-Un's grandfather, Kim Il-Sung.

The failed launch sparked condemnation from the UN Security Council which vowed to tighten existing sanctions.

South Korea's military has also strengthened security against potential attacks, a foreign ministry spokesman said Tuesday, adding Seoul would "definitely retaliate" against any aggression.

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