Seoul: North Korea blew up the inter-Korean joint liaison office in its border town of Kaesong, sharply escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula after near-daily threats against Seoul over anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets.
The surprise move sparked concern that the communist nation could put other threats against the South into action, including taking military action and moving troops to border regions disarmed under inter-Korean agreements, reports Yonhap News Agency.
North Korea’s state media confirmed that the liaison office was “completely ruined”.
“The relevant field of North Korea put into practice the measure of completely destroying the North-South joint liaison office in the Kaesong Industrial Zone in the wake of cutting off all the communication liaison lines between the north and the south,” Pyongyang’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in a report.
The two Koreas launched the liaison office in September 2018 to facilitate inter-Korean exchange and cooperation amid a reconciliatory mood created by summit talks between their leaders.
The office suspended its operations in early January due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.
The destruction was in line with “the mindset of the enraged people to surely force human scum and those, who have sheltered the scum, to pay dearly for their crimes”, KCNA said, referring to North Korean defectors in the South sending anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets.
The explosion came after Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, warned on June 13 that “before long, a tragic scene of the useless North-South joint liaison office completely collapsed would be seen”.
The North has been lashing out at the South almost daily for failing to stop defectors from sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border via balloons.
Pyongyang has vowed to deal with South Korea as an “enemy”, cutting off all cross-border communication lines, and threatened to take other measures, including military action.