– Public calm –
For the moment, there has been little sense of panic among ordinary South Koreans who have become largely inured over the years to the North’s regular — and regularly unrealised — threats of imminent war.
Technically, the two Koreas have been at war for the past 65 years, as the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a ceasefire that was never ratified by a formal peace treaty.
The last direct attack on the South was in November 2010 when North Korea shelled the South Korean border island of Yeonpyeong, killing two civilians and two soldiers.
Kim’s order on Friday to move to a war footing came after an exchange of artillery fire on Thursday that claimed no casualties but triggered a dangerous spike in cross-border tensions.
Tensions were already running high over mine blasts earlier this month that maimed two South Korean border soldiers, and the launch last Monday of an annual South Korea-US military exercise that infuriated Pyongyang.