From FoxNews.com -- North Korea said Saturday that the peninsula it shares with South Korea is entering a 'state of war,' as top United States officials denounced recent comments from the totalitarian country and repeat that they stand ready to protect allies in the region.

North Korea made the comments after two U.S. B-2 stealth bombers dropped

dummy munitions Thursday on an uninhabited South Korean island as part of annual defense drills that North Korean sees as rehearsals for invasion.

Hours later, North Korea's young leader Kim Jong Un ordered his generals to put rockets on standby and threatened to strike American targets if provoked.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Friday condemned North Korea's response to the U.S. exercise, including put artillery forces on alert, calling the actions "provocative," saying North Korea has struck a belligerent tone.”

On Thursday, White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest said North Korea is engaging in "bellicose rhetoric" and that the U.S. commitment to protect its interests and allies in the region “is something that should be evident."

Analysts say a full-scale conflict is extremely unlikely, noting that the Korean Peninsula has remained in a technical state of war for 60 years. But the North's continued threats toward South Korea and the United States, including a vow to launch a nuclear strike, have raised worries that a misjudgment between the sides could lead to a clash.

On Saturday, Kim also threatened to shut down a border factory complex that is the last major symbol of inter-Korean cooperation.

North Korea's threats are seen as efforts to provoke the new government in Seoul, led by President Park Geun-hye, to change its policies toward Pyongyang, and to win diplomatic talks with Washington that could get it additional aid. North Korea's moves are also seen as ways to build domestic unity as young leader Kim Jong Un strengthens his military credentials.

North Korea said in a statement Saturday that it would deal with South Korea according to "wartime regulations" and would retaliate against any provocations by the United States and South Korea without notice.

"Now that the revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK have entered into an actual military action, the inter-Korean relations have naturally entered the state of war," said the statement, which was carried by Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency, referring to the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Provocations "will not be limited to a local war, but develop into an all-out war, a nuclear war," the statement said.

Hours after the statement, Pyongyang threatened to shut down the jointly run Kaesong industrial park, expressing anger over media reports suggesting the complex remained open because it was a source of hard currency for the impoverished North.

"If the puppet group seeks to tarnish the image of the DPRK even a bit, while speaking of the zone whose operation has been barely maintained, we will shut down the zone without mercy," an identified spokesman for the North's office controlling Kaesong said in comments carried by KCNA.

South Korea's Unification Ministry responded by calling the North Korean threat "unhelpful" to the countries' already frayed relations and vowed to ensure the safety of hundreds of South Korean managers who cross the border to their jobs in Kaesong. It did not elaborate.

South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said the country's military remains mindful of the possibility that increasing North Korean drills near the border could lead to an actual provocation.

"The series of North Korean threats -- announcing all-out war, scrapping the cease-fire agreement and the non-aggression agreement between the South and the North, cutting the military hotline, entering into combat posture No. 1 and entering a `state of war' -- are unacceptable and harm the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula," Kim said.

"We are maintaining full military readiness in order to protect our people's lives and security," he told reporters Saturday.

Naval skirmishes in the disputed waters off the Korean coast have led to bloody battles several times over the years.

But on the streets of Seoul on Saturday, South Koreans said they were not worried about an attack from North Korea.

"From other countries' point of view, it may seem like an extremely urgent situation," said Kang Tae-hwan, a private tutor. "But South Koreans don't seem to be that nervous because we've heard these threats from the North before."

The Kaesong industrial park, which is run with North Korean labor and South Korean know-how, has been operating normally, despite Pyongyang shutting down a communications channel typically used to coordinate travel by South Korean workers to and from the park just across the border in North Korea. The rivals are now coordinating the travel indirectly, through an office at Kaesong that has outside lines to South Korea.

North Korea has previously made such threats about Kaesong without acting on them, and recent weeks have seen a torrent of bellicose rhetoric from Pyongyang. North Korea is angry about the South Korea-U.S. military drills and new U.N. sanctions over its nuclear test last month.

Dozens of South Korean firms run factories in the border town of Kaesong. Using North Korea's cheap, efficient labor, the Kaesong complex produced $470 million worth of goods last year.