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Korean Tensions Aren't Spurring Foreigners To Evacuate

The phrase "tensions are rising" has been used a lot in recent days as North Korea continues to threaten the South and the U.S.

And there were new reasons Friday morning to use that phrase:

-- "North Korea Moves Missiles, South Korean Markets Roiled." (Reuters)

-- "Report: North Korea Loads 2 Missiles Onto Mobile Launchers." (Voice of America)

-- "South Korea Dispatches Aegis Warships." (Yonhap News)

But as NPR's Bruce Auster wrote for us Thursday, "the sky isn't falling over the Korean peninsula — yet." And:

— North Korea doesn't have the capacity to hit the U.S.

— North Korea says it has a no-first-use nuclear policy.

— And, we've heard this before.

Plus, there were also these reports Friday:

-- "Seoul is not considering the withdrawal of [800 or so] South Korean workers from the joint inter-Korean industrial complex in the North Korean city of Kaesong, Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae said. 'When the situation requires, the withdrawal should be carried out for the safety of workers there,' the minister said in a press conference with foreign correspondents in Seoul. But for now, the conditions are not that serious, 'therefore (the government) is not considering withdrawal,' the policymaker said." (Yonhap News)

The North has blocked trucks from the South from getting to the industrial complex for several days.

-- Also, while "North Korea asked Russia on Friday to consider evacuating staff from its embassy in Pyongyang because of increasing tension on the Korean peninsula, a spokesman for the embassy said by phone from Pyongyang."

Still, "Denis Samsonov said Russia was examining the request but was not planning an evacuation at this stage, and there were no outward signs of increased tension in the North Korean capital itself." (Reuters)

Update at 9:50 a.m. ET. All Embassies Have Been Contacted, Russians Say:

According to a statement on the Twitter page of Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, "all the embassies in Pyong Yang have been offered to evacuate; we are hoping to clarify the situation."

Update at 8:20 a.m. ET. British Diplomats Also Contacted; Calls Inquiry "Rhetoric."

Reuters now reports that:

"Britain said on Friday that North Korea had asked it if it intended to evacuate its embassy in Pyongyang because of rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula, but said it regarded the query as part of an anti-U.S. information campaign.

" 'We believe they have taken this step as part of their continuing rhetoric that the US poses a threat to them. We are considering next steps, including a change to our travel advice,' Britain's Foreign Office said in a statement."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
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