North Korea tensions
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects the defence detachment on Mahap Islet in the western sector of the front in this undated photo KCNA via Reuters

The South Korean military has been kept on high alert to prepare for any provocation from its rival, North Korea. Seoul's forces have been asked to hold high vigilance as Pyongyang may attempt to flex its muscle during the presidential transition period in the US.

"We are closely monitoring North Korea's military moves as it might misinterpret political trouble in the South and the power transition period in the US as a good opportunity to provoke," Jeon Ha-kyu, spokesperson for the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) told reporters.

The heightened vigilance comes at a time when the North has pledged a tough response in the wake of UN-imposed sanctions on Pyongyang. Only days ago, the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had overseen military drills close to the border simulating attacks on South Korea's key positions.

The JCS spokesperson has also condemned the North's increasing interference in the South Korean political affairs, which has also been witnessing turbulent times. South Korean President Park Geun-hye has been embroiled in a large-scale corruption scandal and following that impeachment procedures have been set in motion by the opposition parties.

Tensions have been escalating in the Korean peninsula in the past few weeks particularly after the UN Security Council announced a fresh round of sanctions against the Kim Jong-un regime for its nuclear detonation in September.

Kim had earlier warned: "If a war breaks out, such a deadly strike should be inflicted upon the South Korean forces to completely break their will of counteraction at the start and make a clean sweep of them," according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency. The reclusive leader has carried out at least nine field visits to frontline military units in November alone. The North has conducted two nuclear detonations in 2016 and several other missile tests in a direct violation of UN regulations.