On Tuesday June 16th North Korea blew up an empty liaison office that previously served as an open channel of communication between the two nations. This symbolic move occurred in the border town of Kaesong in North Korea.
Pyongyang’s decision to destroy an empty inter-Korean liaison office contributes to the rise of tension between the two countries.
The explosion came days after North Korean leader’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, announced that soon there would be “a tragic scene of the useless North-South liaison office being completely collapsed”.
The building had not been in use since January of this year. It had been inaugurated in September 2018 and was the first office between both countries since their division Post-World War II.
The KCNA, the North Korean state news agency, reported on the matter and justified the actions of the government by saying it was the people of North Korea wanted the destruction of the office. In addition, they stated that the intention of the action was to “force (the) human scum, and those who have sheltered the scum, to pay dearly for their crime”, in reference to those who took part in the distribution of anti-Pyongyang propaganda.
In response, Kim You-geun, the South Korean Director of the National security Office, has stated that “The government expresses strong regret over North Korea’s unilateral detonation of the inter-Korean liaison office building.” He proceeded to say that the government will continue closely monitoring the North Korean army and preventing further escalation of this situation.
South Korean Defence Ministry has already sent tanks to their bordering territory and stated “If North Korea carries out provocative military actions, our military will strongly respond to them”
The period of cooperation between the two nations starting in 2018, came to an end a few weeks ago when North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un officially cut all communication with Seoul. This was provoked by an increase of anti-propaganda sent from groups from the South to the North. The North Korean government persistently warned the South that there would be consequences if the leaflets did not stop and finally followed through with their threats on June 8th.
The destruction further breached the relationship between Pyongyang and Seoul and slowly eliminated all hope of a possible reconciliation.