Report: North Korea escalating campaign against THAAD

SEOUL, Aug. 8 (UPI) — North Korea may be stepping up efforts to maximize conflict in South Korea over the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile defense system.

A South Korean government ministry official who spoke to local news service News 1 on the condition of anonymity said Pyongyang issued guidelines to its embassies abroad to launch a campaign against THAAD deployment.

The propaganda drive is to make the most of tensions between China and the United States, as well as between China and South Korea, the official reportedly said.

North Korea’s foreign ministry had instructed its envoys to depict the THAAD issue as a U.S. threat to regional security, a provocation that challenges the North Korean state and to “make the most of the situation,” according to the source.

The source also said Kim Jong Un ordered his subordinates to promote an image of U.S. military buildup on the peninsula that is dividing the region, with South Korea, the United States and Japan on one side and China and Russia on the other.

But South Korean intelligence officials are denying other press reports of North Korean interference on South Korean online forums, Herald Business reported Monday.

An unidentified media service had reported anti-THAAD comments online could be traced back to a North Korean IP address.

Intelligence officials told Herald Business that the findings are inconclusive, and also said it’s not confirmed whether North Korea instructed its embassies to promote anti-THAAD statements.

But one official said, “there is a likelihood” North Korea is stepping up its anti-THAAD campaign.

Opinion is divided in South Korea over the deployment of THAAD.

On Monday, South Korean President Park Geun-hye criticized six opposition party lawmakers for visiting China, The New York Times reported.

“When it comes to a national security issue where the lives of the people are at stake, there should be no difference between the ruling and opposition parties,” Park said.

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