North destroys liaison office in Kaesong
North Korea destroyed the inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong, said South Korea’s Ministry of Unification, after the military reported a loud explosion and smoke coming from the Kaesong Industrial Complex Tuesday afternoon.
South Korean military intelligence from the front lines where the First Corps is stationed reported the liaison office had been demolished after an explosion was heard around 2:50 p.m. on Tuesday.
The provocative act — the biggest escalation yet taken by the North against South Korea — comes days after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s younger sister, Kim Yo-jong, warned in a statement Friday that Seoul will soon witness a “tragic scene of the useless north-south joint liaison office completely collapsed.”
The inter-Korean liaison office in the North Korean border city of Kaesong was the two Koreas’ sole fixed communication office, established in September 2018 as a result of a series of inter-Korean summits that year.
The office — which was fashioned out of a building formerly used to hold inter-Korean cooperation meetings at the Kaesong Industrial Complex before it was shuttered in 2016 — has been vacant since January, when both governments agreed to temporarily shut it down due to the coronavirus epidemic.
In an irate statement earlier this month, Pyongyang said it would pull out of the office over South Korea's failure to prevent activists from sending propaganda across the border, shortly before the regime cut off all official communications with Seoul.
The demolition came just hours after North Korea’s military on Tuesday said it could move troops into areas demilitarized under an agreement with the South, hinting that it could occupy and fortify two joint economic zones once shared with the South: the Kaesong Industrial Complex and Mount Kumgang tourism resort.
BY SHIM KYU-SEOK [email@example.com]
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