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N. Korea threatens to target S. Korean PM after border island visit
SEOUL, March 16 (Yonhap) -- North Korea on Saturday condemned the South Korean prime minister's recent visit to a border island, where he vowed to retaliate against the North with greater forces if attacked amid rising tension on the peninsula.

   Prime Minister Chung Hong-won on Thursday visited the western border island of Yeonpyeong, which was bombarded by the North's artillery in 2010, to reassure residents and order soldiers to hit back "with forces 10 times" the size of any provocations by the communist nation.

   A statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) criticized the remarks by the first prime minister of the Park Geun-hye administration, warning he will be the "first target to be mowed down."

South Korean Prime Minsiter Chung Hong-won visits a western border island of Yeonpyeong on March 14, 2013 to provide solace to residents and order soldiers to protect their safety. (Yonhap)

Chung's visit came as tensions have been simmering on the peninsula in recent weeks with Pyongyang escalating its bellicose rhetoric over tougher sanctions aimed at punishing the nation for its third nuclear test last month, and ongoing S. Korea-U.S. annual joint military exercises.

   In response to the drills, Pyongyang cut the Red Cross line on Monday that serves as a hotline between the two countries and has threatened to terminate the Armistice Agreement signed at the end of the Korean War. Seoul has said, however, the mutual agreement cannot be unilaterally canceled.

   North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has also recently made highly publicized military inspections to artillery units near the western border islands and ordered his soldiers to be ready for war, further escalating military tensions.

   The shelling of Yeonpyeong, which came some eight months after the sinking of the South Korean Naval vessel Cheonan in the Yellow Sea that left 46 sailors dead, killed two soldiers and two civilians.