North to ‘cut off and shut down’ all communication with South at noon today
North Korea will cut all communication lines with South Korea at noon Tuesday, state media reported, blasting Seoul for failing to stop defectors from sending anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets into the communist nation.
The decision came days after the North vowed to abolish an inter-Korean liaison office and completely shut down other major cross-border programs, denouncing leaflet-sending as a hostile act breaching a series of peace agreements between the two sides.
"The disgusting riff-raff have committed hostile acts against the DPRK by taking advantage of the south Korean authorities' irresponsible stance and with their connivance. They dared to hurt the dignity of our supreme leadership," the Korean Central News Agency said.
"As far as the issue of the dignity of our supreme leadership is concerned, there can neither be a pardon nor an opportunity. They should be forced to pay dearly for this," it said.
The KCNA also said that the North "reached a conclusion that there is no need to sit face to face with the South Korean authorities and there is no issue to discuss with them, as they have only aroused our dismay."
"Accordingly, the relevant field of our side will completely cut off and shut down" all communications lines with the South at noon on Tuesday, including the hotline between the North's ruling Workers' Party and the Blue House, as well as a liaison line and military communication lines, the KCNA said.
The decisions were made at a meeting attended by Kim Yo-jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and Kim Yong-chol, vice chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party Korea, the KCNA said.
During the meeting, they "stressed that the work towards the South should thoroughly turn into the one against enemy" and discussed "phased plans" for such transition "in order to make the betrayers and riff-raff pay for their crimes."
The KCNA noted that cutting off all communication lines will be "the first step of the determination to completely shut down all contact means with South Korea and get rid of unnecessary things."
The North has been vehemently protesting propaganda leaflets since last week.
On Friday, the North's United Front Department handling inter-Korean affairs issued a statement, saying it will abolish the liaison office in the North's border town of Kaesong in the first in a series of measures that the sister of leader Kim Jong-un threatened to take unless Seoul stops the sending of such leaflets.
The leader's sister also warned of dismantling a now-shuttered industrial park in Kaesong and scrapping a military tension reduction agreement signed in 2018, calling for a halt to all hostilities along the border.
North Korea vowed to put those threats into action, even though South Korea promised to take legislative measures to ban such activity. The North derided Seoul's envisioned move as "a little more advanced excuses."
The communication lines that the North vowed to completely cut off were established amid a peaceful atmosphere after South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim held three summits in 2018.
Inter-Korean relations have remained chilly since their no-deal summit in February last year. Pyongyang has balked at all of South Korea's offers for talks and cooperation amid a deadlock in denuclearization talks between Pyongyang and Washington.