N.K cuts off all inter-Korean communication lines as tensions rise

Jun 10, 2020, 09:30 am

print page small font big font

facebook share

tweet share

The unification ministry said North Korea has not responded to a series of phone calls the South made via liaison and military communication lines since North Korea announced early Tuesday it will cut off all inter-Korean communication lines. The photo shows a South Korean military official communicating with his North Korean counterpart through a military hotline on September 6, 2013./ Source: Yonhap News

AsiaToday reporters Lee Seok-jong 

North Korea cut off all inter-Korean communication lines Tuesday. While announcing the decision, the North said it will deal with the South as an “enemy.” It has been five days since Kim Yo-jong, the North Korean leader’s sister and first vice department director of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, threatened to scrap a military agreement if the South fails to prevent activists from flying leaflets over the border. 

Inter-Korean relations are again returning to the era of constant tension. The focus is now on whether the North’s move will lead to the complete demolition of the suspended Gaesong Industrial Complex, the closure of the joint liaison office, and the annulment of the September 19 military agreement. 

Experts carefully predicted the possibility of ‘dialogue’, claiming that the North would avoid strategic provocations while trying to do something with the South although inter-Korean relations returned to the situation before the April 27 inter-Korean summit.

“Our side will completely cut off and shut down the liaison line between the authorities of the North and the South, which has been maintained through the North-South joint liaison office, the East and West Seas communication lines between the militaries of the North and the South, the inter-Korean trial communication line and the hotline between the office building of the Central Committee of the WPK and Cheong Wa Dae from 12 p.m. on June 9, 2020,” the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said. 

Since then, the North has not responded to a series of phone calls the South made via liaison and military communication lines.

“The inter-Korean communication lines are a basic means of communication and should be maintained in accordance with inter-Korean agreements,” the South Korean unification ministry said. “While abiding by inter-Korean agreements, the government will make efforts for peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula.” The ministry did not give a special comment on North Korea’s plan to deal with the South as an ‘enemy.’

The presidential office Cheong Wa Dae did not express its official position, however it reportedly analyzed the North’s intentions and discussed countermeasures. 

Regarding North Korea’s intentions, Kim Sung-gul from Hankyoreh Foundation for Reunification and Culture said, “One is to confront with the South, and the other is to speed up the inter-Korean dialogue. Considering what North Korea has shown so far, it is highly likely that it is the latter.”

“North Korea has invested considerable resources in the Wonsan area to build tourism facilities, which has reached into the completion stage,” Kim said. “As soon as the situation related to COVID-19 crisis improves, the North would not only want to resume Mt. Kumgang tourism and Gaesong Industrial Complex, but also attract Chinese tourists to Wonsan area.”

“It is too early to think that the North’s communication cut-off would immediately lead to military provocations. The North could obviously carry out military provocations, but they would be for dialogue, too,” Kim said. 

“It is still difficult to understand the North’s intentions, but the final stop would be dialogue,” Kim added.

“As has been in the past, the North tends to cut off communication lines as a first step in a transition to a hawkish stance,” said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies. “It appears to be trying to have some period of cooling off with South Korea by using the leaflet issue as an excuse.”

#North Korea #communication channel #Kim Yo-jong #unification ministry #inter-Korean relations 
Copyright by Asiatoday