North Korea on Thursday vowed to execute reporters from two South Korean newspapers, saying they insulted the country's dignity while reviewing and interviewing the British authors of a book about life in the isolated country.
Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency carried a state court statement expressing anger over the descriptions of North Korean lives as increasingly capitalist. It also objected to the translated title of the South Korean edition as "Capitalist People's Republic of Korea" and the book's cover that replaced the red star in North Korea's official seal with the U.S. dollar mark.
North Korea's Central Court also "sentenced to death" the presidents of the newspapers and said the North will "track down to the end and cut off the dirty windpipes" of those responsible for such provocations.
South Korea's Unification Ministry denounced the North Korean comments as an "absurd threat" and said it "sternly warns" the North to immediately stop threating South Korean citizens. Seoul's government is ready to take "every measure needed" to protect its citizens, the ministry said in a statement.
The North didn't directly threaten the British authors of "North Korea Confidential: Private Markets, Fashion Trends, Prison Camps, Dissenters and Defectors," but said the book "viciously defamed and distorted" the country's realities.
The book was written by Daniel Tudor, a former Economist reporter, and James Pearson, a Reuters correspondent.
North Korean propaganda is often filled with odd and extreme threats. In June, it vowed to execute South Korea's former president and her spy chief over an alleged plot to assassinate its leadership. Seoul's National Intelligence Service denied the claim.
The North also threatened South Korean news organizations in 2012, when its military warned that its troops had aimed artillery at the specific coordinates of some Seoul-based newspapers and TV stations over their critical reports on children's festivals that had been taking place in Pyongyang. The North didn't carry out on the threat to wage a "merciless sacred war" over the perceived insults.