N. Korea blows up joint liaison office

Jun 17, 2020, 07:49 am

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Smoke rises from North Korea’s border town of Kaesong on June 16, 2020, as North Korea blew up the inter-Korean liaison office there./ Source: Yonhap News

AsiaToday reporters Lee Jang-won & Lee Seok-jong 

North Korea blew up the inter-Korean joint liaison office in its border town of Kaesong on Tuesday. Just one day before the demolition, South Korean President Moon Jae-in urged North Korean leader Kim Jong-un “not to reverse the promise of peace he and I made before 80 million Koreans,” in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the June 15 Joint Declaration. However, the North Korean regime destroyed the symbol of inter-Korean relations and reconciliation, in response. 

The explosion came days after Kim Yo-jong, sister of the North Korean leader, warned Saturday that, “Before long, a tragic scene of the useless North-South liaison office completely collapsed would be seen.” The explosion sparks concern that the North could put other threats against the South into action, including taking military action and moving troops to border regions. The establishment of the office was part of a series of reconciliatory moves in 2018 after leaders of the Koreas met to try to improve relations. 

North Korean media outlets officially confirmed that the joint liaison office was blown up by the North Korean side. “At 14:50, the liaison office was tragically ruined with a terrific explosion,” the North’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said. “The relevant field of the DPRK 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,” KCNA said. The demolition 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,” it said, referring to North Korean defectors in the South sending anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets. The South Korean unification ministry revealed at 2:49 pm that the North blew up the office. Witnesses and sources said smoke was seen and an explosion was heard from the Kaesong Industrial Complex.

In addition, North Korea’s military said it would reenter border areas disarmed under inter-Korean agreements and send its own propaganda leaflets into the South. “Our army is keeping a close watch on the current situation in which the north-south relations are turning worse and worse,” the General Staff of the (North) Korean People’s Army said in a statement carried by the KCNA. “We are reviewing an action plan to advance into the zones that had been demilitarized under the north-south agreement, turn the front line into a fortress and further heighten the vigilance against the South,” the General Staff said. 

It did not elaborate on where the border areas would be, but they seem to be referring to regions around the western border town of Kaesong and Mount Kumgang on the east coast from which the North previously withdrew troops. 

Besides, the North Korean military announced plans for a large-scale leaflet scattering to the South. “We also accepted an opinion on opening many areas in the ground front and southwestern waters and taking a thorough-going security measure for positively cooperating with our people from all walks of life in their large-scale leaflet scattering struggle against the enemy that is expected to take place,” it said. “We will map out the military action plans for rapidly carrying out the said opinions to receive approval from the Party Central Military Commission,” it stressed. “Our troops will quickly and thoroughly follow any decision made by the party and the government,” it added.

Following the explosion in Kaesong, the South Korean military tightened its surveillance and readiness posture for possible accidental clashes near the border areas. Cheong Wa Dae convened an emergency meeting of top security officials to discuss details of the latest action by North Korea and Seoul’s response to it.

#inter-Korean liaison office #Kim Yo-jong #threat #leaflet #propaganda 
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