South Korea called on North Korea to make a "courageous change" toward peace and abandon its military provocations during a speech Sunday marking Korea's liberation from Japanese rule.
President Lee Myung-bak made the offer even as relations between the two Koreas are at their lowest point in years following the March sinking of a South Korean warship, which Lee said Sunday was "unprovoked attack" by North Korea.
"The North must never venture to carry out another provocation, nor will we tolerate it if they do so again," Lee said.
Tensions on the divided peninsula deepened last week when North Korea fired a barrage of artillery into the sea, some of them into South Korean waters.
On the 65th anniversary of Korea's liberation at the end of World War II, President Lee Myung-bak called on North Korea to heed calls to improve ties with South Korea.