Foreign diplomats in North Korea appear to be staying put, ignoring a warning by the government that they should consider evacuating their missions amid rising nuclear tensions.
North Korea had informed embassies on Friday it could not guarantee their safety after April 10 if a conflict broke out as concerns grew that the isolated state was preparing a missile launch.
But most of their governments made it clear they had no immediate plans to withdraw personnel, and some suggested the advisory was a ruse to heighten global anxiety over the current crisis on the Korean peninsula.
“The security of the German embassy and its exposure to danger are continually being evaluated,” the German foreign ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
“For now, the embassy can continue working.”
A British Foreign Office spokeswoman, commenting on the North’s advisory, said: “We believe they have taken this step as part of their country’s rhetoric that the US poses a threat to them.”
The head of EU missions in Pyongyang met on Saturday, but Britain said it was a routine gathering and no major decision was expected.
Meanwhile, Japanese media reports said the US will deploy a high-altitude unmanned spy aircraft in Japan.
The reports said the Global Hawk is likely to be stationed at the US airbase in Misawa, northern Japan. From there, it could be used to keep an eye on North Korea.
In South Korea, a government official was quoted by the Yonhap news agency as saying diplomats would ignore the North’s appeal to leave.
Western tourists returning from organised tours in Pyongyang, which have continued despite the tensions, said the situation on the ground appeared calm, with life going on as normal.
In another development on Saturday, four days after Pyongyang closed the border to people and goods, 21 more South Koreans began leaving the North and the factory where they work.
The Kaesong industrial park is considered the last remnant of cooperation between the two countries, and 100 more workers are expected to have left by the end of the day.
‘Just as usual’
One South Korean manager of the factory park, 68-year-old Han Nam-il, who crossed the Unification Bridge towards South Korea on Saturday morning, said that the security guards at the North Korean side of the border were “were fully armed,” but the number of soldiers was “just as usual”.
Earlier on Friday, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported that North Korea had moved two medium-range missiles to its east coast.
The report cited a senior military official as saying: “Early this week, the North has moved two Musudan missiles on the train and placed them on mobile launchers.”
The report could not be confirmed, but White House spokesman Jay Carney said that based on past behaviour, “we would not be surprised” to see Pyongyang conduct another missile test.
“We urge them to stop with the provocations,” he said.