May 25 (Bloomberg) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Il told the country’s military to be combat-ready in a message broadcast last week that coincided with South Korea’s announcement that it blamed his regime for the sinking of a warship, a dissident group said.
The order was broadcast on May 20 by O Kuk Ryol, vice chairman of the National Defense Commission, according to the website of North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity, a Seoul- based group run by defectors from the communist country. Yonhap News agency reported on the posting earlier today, sending the won to a 10-month low and causing stocks to drop.
While Kim doesn’t want war, North Korea is ready to counter any attacks, O said in the message, according to the group, which cited an unidentified person in the country. The organization was among in South Korea to report on North Korea’s botched currency revaluation late last year.
“For Kim Jong Il to be giving such an order is pretty serious,” said Kim Yong Hyun, professor of North Korean studies at Seoul-based Dongguk University, adding that he doubted that such a direct order was given.
Lee Jong Joo, a spokeswoman at the Unification Ministry in Seoul, said she couldn’t confirm the report as the closed- circuit radio, on which the message was said to be delivered, cannot be monitored by South Korea’s government. Officials at South Korea’s Defense Ministry weren’t immediately reachable.
Won, Stocks Tumble
The won fell 3.9 percent to 1,261.15 per dollar as of 12:51 p.m. in Seoul, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It touched 1,272.45, the weakest level since July 16. The Kospi index dropped as much as 4.5 percent, and was 3.9 percent lower at 12:48 p.m. in Seoul, set for its biggest one-day decline in six months.
South Korean defense-related stocks rallied. Speco Co., a construction company that supplies the military, rose 15 percent to 5,520 won. Victek Co., which makes electronic warfare equipment, gained 11 percent to 4,540 won.
Tensions are rising in the Korean peninsula following last week’s report by a South Korean-led multinational panel that North Korea was the “only plausible” perpetrator of the March 26 attack, in which 46 sailors died.
North Korea said it would shell South Korean positions that tried to blare propaganda over the demilitarized zone that marks the border between the two countries, which are still formally at war following their 1950-1953 conflict. The border is one of the most heavily armed in the world, with U.S. and South Korean troops facing off against North Korea’s million-strong army.
South Korea plans to define North Korea as its “main enemy” when it maps out military strategy, Yonhap reported today, citing a government official it didn’t identify.
South Korea’s President Lee Myung Bak said yesterday the country will push for United Nations censure against North Korea for the sinking of the Cheonan. The multinational team concluded on May 20 that North Korea fired a torpedo to split apart the 1,200-ton warship.