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South Koreans wary of threats from North
Auskar Surbakti reports. reports.

Many South Koreans are breathing a sigh of relief after the birthday of North Korea's eternal leader Kim Il-sung passed without incident. But the apocalyptic threats from Kim Jong-un have sparked protests in South Korea. While most people go about their business as normal, there are demands for the international community to punish Pyongyang.
Transcript
JIM MIDDLETON, PRESENTER: Many South Koreans are breathing a sigh of relief after the birthday of North Korea's eternal leader Kim Il-sung passed without a feared missile test or other provocative act.

But the apocalyptic threats from Kim Jong-un have sparked protests in South Korea. And while most people go about their business as normal, there are demands for the international community to punish Pyongyang.

Diplomacy grinds on. South Korea's president Park Guen-hye will travel to Washington next month for meetings with US president Barack Obama.

Auskar Surbakti reports.

(Footage of protest plays)

AUSKAR SURBAKTI, REPORTER: This is one of the anti North Korean protests Pyongyang has slammed as a monstrous criminal act.

The regime is demanding Seoul apologise for the rallies. But with tensions flaring on their doorstep, some South Koreans are determined to denounce their increasingly hostile neighbour.

MALE PROTESTER 1 (translation): North Korea's leader Kim Jong un has been threatening us with war and is developing nuclear arms ever since he conducted a nuclear test. So we're here to urge the international community to strongly punish the country.

AUSKAR SURBAKTI: Hundreds of demonstrators have denounced the regime since it recently ripped up the armistice agreement that stopped fighting between the two countries and ramped up rhetoric against the South.

In the border city of Paju, a handful of protesters released balloons containing messages to the North Korean leader Kim Jong un and demanded an end to provocation by Pyongyang.

MALE PROTESTER 2 (translation): North Korea has continued to threaten South Korea and the international community. We're here today to send a message to Kim Jong un that we should coexist and open the way for a peaceful unification.

AUSKAR SURBAKTI: While threats of war have so far remained hollow, the increasing tensions have hit business and investor confidence in South Korea.

Stocks on the Kospi fell almost 4 per cent in one week, while the won hit an eight month low last week.

ROMMEL LEE, SENIOR ANALYST, SHINHAN INVESTMENT CORPORATION (translation): It seems like the weakness of the Korean won is the result of geopolitical risk caused by North Korean related matters and the loss of foreign investment.

AUSKAR SURBAKTI: Both the won and the Kospi have since gained ground, but trading has been volatile, indicating that investor confidence is still shaky.

Speculation over a missile launch has been mounting following reports that Pyongyang has moved at least two Musudan ballistic missiles to the east coast.

As well as downplaying the threats, the South Korean government is assuring everyone that it's prepared for any attack.

KIM HYUNG-SEOK, SOUTH KOREA'S UNIFICATION MINISTRY SPOKESMAN (translation): North Korea is using strong psychological warfare to build up a sense of instability. So we don't have to worry too much or pay too much attention to those moves.

(Footage of Psy concert plays)

AUSKAR SURBAKTI: And it seems that many South Koreans are heeding that advice. Life has largely carried on as normal for most people, including these concert goers who has turned out for the K-Pop star Psy's latest release.

MALE CONCERY GOER (translation): I don't feel any direct threat. It's just like having bad guys on the street. The threat is there but you don't really feel it.

FEMALE CONCERY GOER (translation): I don't feel any physical threat because we have a military ally in the United States. We are prepared so I don't feel threatened.

AUSKAR SURBAKTI: The government has also dismissed fears of another nuclear test, despite the fiery rhetoric that's been conveyed through the regime's state media.

South Korean intelligence hasn't revealed any unusual troop movements in North Korea, alleviating fierce of a full scale conflict.

But one expert says there are other concerns.

DR EMMA CAMPBELL, NORTH KOREA ANALYST, AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY: The problem that we face is that there may not be all out war but there may be some small scale skirmishes between North and South Korea as we saw in 2010 with the sinking of the Cheonan, where 46 South Korean sailors died. We need to be looking at ways to prevent those kind of escalations rather than trying to predict what the North Koreans might do.

AUSKAR SURBAKTI: For residents on South Korea's Yeonpyoeng Island, the memories of such an escalation are still fresh. Two civilians and two Marines were killed in 2010 when Pyongyang shelled the island, which lies near a disputed maritime border, and the current tensions are sparking fears of another attack.

FEMALE YEONPYEONG RESIDENT (translation): Whenever I watch television, I see Kim Jong un laughing and pointing to our island. It makes me very worried. If you haven't experienced this, you wouldn't know. They are constantly threatening us.
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