South Korean President Park Geun Hye has told her government to prepare for large-scale defections from North Korea. The announcement comes days after she appealed to the North's citizens to flee their country, resulting in anger from Kim Jong Un's dictatorship.
During her Armed Forced Day speech, Park assured citizens of North Korea that the south would "keep the road open" for those who wished to defect. On 11 October, AFP reported that the South Korean leader had told officials during a Cabinet meeting to prepare for new arrivals.
"Defectors are like unification that has arrived early and a test bed for unification," Park said. "I hope we can swiftly secure [a] sufficient system and capacity to accommodate North Korean citizens who come seeking freedom."
According to local media, South Korea is spending 2 trillion won to build a defector camp, which would be able to host up to 100,000 people. The country already has two centres for defectors from North Korea, which hosts roughly 1,100 people.
The North Korean regime has been embarrassed in recent times over high profile defections. In August, a North Korean diplomat at in the country's London embassy defected to South Korea, while earlier this month a high ranking North Korean diplomat defected in China.
Pyongyang responded to Park's calls for defections by calling her a "bare-faced and impudent b****"". Tensions have been running high in the Korean peninsula ever since North Korea carried out its fifth and largest nuclear test in September, with the North accusing the South of driving the situation "to the uncontrollable and irreversible phase of the outbreak of a nuclear war".
"US imperialists and the Park Geun Hye group of traitors should not forget even [for] a moment that our revolutionary armed forces are ready to fight a decisive battle to thoroughly foil the reckless military moves for... a preemptive strike at the North," a spokesperson for the Korean People's Army said. "Time will prove what disastrous consequences will be entailed by the reckless remarks made by such half-wits as Park Geun Hye."