North Korea to Sever All Inter-Korean Communications Amid Anti-DPRK Leaflet Tensions
21:16 GMT 08.06.2020(updated 22:07 GMT 08.06.2020)
South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported early Tuesday morning that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) intended to sever all inter-Korean communications.
"The South Korean authorities connived at the hostile acts against the DPRK by the riff-raff, while trying to dodge heavy responsibility with nasty excuses. This has driven the inter-Korean relations into a catastrophe," reads the statement, carried by North Korea's state-owned Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
"We will never barter the dignity of our supreme leadership for anything, but defend it at the cost of our lives," the statement continued. "We have 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."
The statement notes that Kim Yo Jong, DPRK leader Kim Jong Un's younger sister who now heads relations with the South, "stressed that the work towards the south should thoroughly turn into the one against enemy," noting she and other DPRK leaders "gave an instruction to completely cut off all communication and liaison ties between the North and the South," which they referred to as getting "rid of unnecessary things."
The termination of ties will go into effect at 12 p.m. local time on Tuesday.
The news comes amid a contentious situation at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates the two Koreas, where defectors from the North have been spreading propaganda leaflets across the no-man's land and into North Korean territory. Amid hesitation from Seoul, Pyongyang lashed out, pledging to abolish the joint liaison office established in Kaesong in recent years to foster closer ties between the countries, which were split at the end of World War II.
Kim Yo Jong called the defectors "human scum" and "mongrel dogs" who had betrayed their homeland. The same day, Seoul promised to ban the defectors' actions.
Then on Monday, the first of two daily liaison phone calls from the South went unanswered; however, they answered the second call.
The collapse of relations between Seoul and Pyongyang comes a little less than two years after reaching an acme in September 2018, when the two nations signed a declaration ending the Korean War, which has technically been ongoing since 1950 since fighting stopped with a ceasefire in 1953 and not a peace treaty. The declaration was not a permanent peace, either, since the US would also have to sign the agreement, but it laid the foundation for further relaxation of tensions across the peninsula, including cross-border travel and the opening of the joint liaison office.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un hold their hands after watching the mass games performance of "The Glorious Country" at May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea, Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. Unification flag symbol at top centre.
However, as denuclearization talks with the US collapsed in early 2019, hostilities slowly crept back, and Pyongyang began assuming a more defensive posture as Seoul also began to walk back pledges it had made not to resume military drills with the United States. The US had hoped to talk the North into dismantling its nuclear weapons program, but refused to lower economic sanctions against the DPRK first.
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