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North Korea appoints Reformist prime minister amid State of War

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New North Korean Prime Minister Pak Pong Ju (L) shaking hands with then Chinese President Hu Jintao in 2005

North Korea has reappointed the economic reformist Pak Pong Ju as prime minister amid the country’s escalating tensions with South Korea which has placed the two neighbors in a “state of war.”

Political analysts contend that the Monday appointment of Pak underlines the determination of new leader Kim Jong Un to concentrate on substantial economic development.

Pak was reportedly dismissed as prime minister in 2007 after he suggested a US-style wage system.

Observers say the new North Korean premier is not expected to implement radical economic reforms, but he is likely to shift part of the country’s massive military spending into the economy.

The new appointment comes amid the escalating warlike rhetoric in the Korean Peninsula.

On Saturday, Pyongyang announced that it is in a “state of war” with South Korea, warning that any provocation by Seoul and Washington will trigger an all-out nuclear war.

Pyongyang also warned that if Washington and Seoul launched a preemptive attack, the conflict “will not be limited to a local war, but develop into an all-out war, a nuclear war.”

The warnings came days after South Korea and the US signed a new military pact in response to what they called even low-level provocations by Pyongyang.

On March 11, Seoul and Washington launched a week-long annual joint military maneuver near the Korean Peninsula despite warnings from Pyongyang. The maneuver involved 10,000 South Korean soldiers and about 3,000 US troops.


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