Just hours after threatening military action against South Korea, North Korea has blown up a ‘joint liaison office’ that was opened to help the two countries communicate after peace talks began in 2018.
The office, located in the city of Kaesong in North Korea, was blown up in the wake of rising tensions between the two nations that have been escalating for weeks, according to BBC. However, the office has been empty since January due to coronavirus restrictions.
The rising tensions were initially caused by a group of South Korean defector groups that sent propaganda to the North, which prompted Kim Yo-jong, the North Korean leader’s sister to say that the liaison office may be demolished in a “tragic scene” in a statement just this weekend.
The office was set up in 2018 to help facilitate communications between North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un and South Korean president, Moon-Jae-in.
North Korea has also threatened to send its army into the demilitarised zone on the borders dividing the countries in response to the escalating tensions. Kim Yo-jong’s stated that, if she so orders, they’re ready to “turn the front line into a fortress and heighten military vigilance”.
Kim Yo-jong, the younger sister of Kim Jong-Un, has taken on an increasingly prominent role within the political scene of the isolated communist regime, initially taking on a key role in the propaganda department in 2014, where she protected her brother’s image. In 2017, she was promoted to a position as an alternate member of the politburo, while also maintaining her role in propaganda. In 2018, she was elevated into the international spotlight, when she became the first member of the Kim family to visit the South, attending the Winter Olympics.
She has emerged as one of her brother’s strongest allies and even as the leading candidate to succeed him when there were questions over his health in April. Now, she has taken on a role of delivering statements indicating her willingness to use strong-arm tactics to deal with North Korea’s Southern neighbours. She has fast become the focal point of inter-Korean affairs.
The North Korean military said it was “studying an action plan” for the army to move “into the zones that had been demilitarised” on Tuesday.
The Korean War began in June 1950, with fighting coming to an end in 1953. But the war technically never ended because South Korea never signed the Armistice Agreement, due to President Syngman Rhee’s refusal to accept having failed to unify Korea by force. The war action ended after the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) was created to separate North and South Korea, which allowed the return of prisoners.