An inter-Korean liaison office located in the border town of Kaesong has been demolished by the North, Seoul’s Unification Ministry has claimed amid rising tensions between the neighboring nations.
North Korea is said to have blown up the facility, which was inaugurated by the two countries back in 2018, on Tuesday.
Earlier in the day, an explosion was heard and smoke was seen coming from the area.
#BREAKING: loud explosion heard near the DMZ Korean border at 1450 KST, authorities think North Koera may have destroyed inter-Korean joint liaison office in Kaesong – @JoongAngDaily reports pic.twitter.com/nKCEUPqY3s
— Amichai Stein (@AmichaiStein1) June 16, 2020
Previously, the liaison office was singled out by Kim Yo-jong, the sister of Chairman Kim Jong-un and a high-ranking government official. Bashing South Korea for declining bilateral ties, she predicted that Seoul would soon witness the collapse of the “useless” communications facility.
Our government is no longer interested in serving the people.
The North Korean staff had left the office in March 2019, just one year after it was built amid warming ties between Seoul and Pyongyang.
It had allowed officials from both countries to meet face-to-face on a regular basis, marking the first time such frequent contacts had taken place since the Korean War.
Still to be officially confirmed, the news comes amid a major flare-up in tension between the two Koreas. Also on Tuesday, Pyongyang upped the ante, saying its military is considering deploying troops to some demilitarized areas on the border, and getting “fully ready” to move out on government orders.
It also pledged to send its own leaflets into the South’s territory as part of “the struggle against the enemy.” Pyongyang was unnerved by defector groups in the South sending leaflets critical of Chairman Kim and the top brass, suspending the military deconfliction hotline, and threatening to sever all ties with Seoul.
In recent years, the two Koreas have attempted to defuse their long-standing tensions, gaining momentum from the historic meetings between Kim Jong-un and President Moon Jae-in, who signed a range of non-binding agreements. Both neighbors, who are still technically at war, pledged to revive cross-border trade and demilitarize their shared frontier before the ties soured.
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