As Kim Jong-Il continued his secret visit to China, reports said as many as 50,000 North Korean troops were stationed at the border with South Korea.
As many as 1.2 million North Korean soldiers already patrol the demilitarised zone that has divided the peninsula since the 1950-53 war ended with a cease fire.
Tensions between the two countries have been high since a South Korean navy ship mysteriously blew up and sank in disputed waters. The North has denied any involvement in the incident.
North Korea also denied yesterday that it sent spies to kill a high-profile defector and vocal critic of its leader, Kim Jong-il, and accused South Korea of fabricating the case to stoke hostilities against Pyongyang.
The denial, carried by Uriminzokkiri, North Korea’s official Web site, came after prosecutors here said last month they arrested two North Korean officers who had entered South Korea on a mission to kill Hwang Jang-yop while posing as defectors.
Hwang, the highest-ranking North Korean official ever to defect to South Korea, has urged ideological warfare against his homeland, calling Kim a tyrant bent on maintaining his lavish lifestyle while starving his own people.
Uriminzokkiri said the allegations of a plot to kill the 88-year-old defector amount to “a groundless act of manipulation” by South Korea, and warned of “stern punishments” against Seoul.