North Korea criticized South Korea on Sunday for "insulting" celebrations marking the birth of its founder, as the world keeps a close watch on what the North's next move will be after weeks of bellicose threats.
Monday will mark the birthday of the North's founder Kim Il-sung, the grandfather of the current leader Kim Jong-un. In recent weeks, the North has issued a torrent of warlike rhetoric following the latest U.N. sanctions that punished Pyongyang for conducting its third nuclear test.
Pyongyang has been expected to fire off a mid-range ballistic missile, but Seoul's military officials said Saturday that the North had not moved any of its mobile missile launchers for the past two days.
In conciliatory gestures to defuse tensions, South Korean President Park Geun-hye offered last week to have dialogue with the North. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also supported Park's proposal, while warning that a missile launch would be a "huge mistake."
South Korean officials said it appears the North will decide on its next move, including an expected missile launch, following the Monday celebrations.
On Sunday, a spokesman for the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea slammed the South Korean government for making "malignant and ill-boding remarks" against the Monday celebrations.
Referring to some South Korean media reports that the North is now "in trouble before the South's proposal for dialogue" ahead of the Monday events, the North's committee said such remarks were "another unpardonable hideous provocation."
"Those hurting the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK (North Korea) will face a stern punishment," the North's committee said.
North Korea usually marks the anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung with a big military parade.
Meanwhile, a conservative civic organization in South Korea said Sunday they have decided not to send anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border on Monday to help support their government's proposal for dialogue with North Korea.
"We decided not to launch anti-North Korea leaflets on Monday in the wake of the government's proposal for dialogue with the North," said Choi Sung-ryong, head of the Family Assembly Abducted to North Korea, which campaigns for the return of South Koreans abducted by the North.
"However, if North Korea rejects our government's proposal for dialogue and continues threats or launches a missile, we will send the leaflets across the border," Choi told Yonhap News Agency by telephone.
The decision came a day after South Korean police stopped a planned launch by another conservative group of anti-North Korea leaflets across the border. (Yonhap News)