“The North destroying the South-North joint liaison office is an act that goes against the expectations of those who wish for the development of South-North relations,” reads a statement from the Blue House.
Rabat – After several threats against South Korea and a warning to destroy the inter-Korean liaison office, North Korea has blown up the office located in the city Kaesong on Tuesday, June 16, stoking fears of war.
The explosion took place around 2:50 pm, Tuesday on North Korea’s side of the border in an area less than 10km from the demilitarized zone that divides the two countries.
The inter-Korean liaison office opened 2018 to facilitate communication between North and South Korea during a time of conflict. It also has been empty since January due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The move represents North Korea’s most serious provocation since international commentators suspected the country of torpedoing a South Korean warship, killing 46 sailors, and later shelling a South Korean island, killing two soldiers and two civilians in 2010.
North Korea blames South Korea’s failure to prevent defectors from disseminating anti-regime leaflets across the border, leading to speculation that the attack was responding to the ongoing practice.
The Blue House released a statement expressing regret in the wake of the explosion. The statement emphasized that the incident is a threat to positive relations between North and South Korea.
“The government makes it clear that the responsibility for everything that follows this is entirely on the North’s side,” the statement continued. “We will strongly respond if the North continues to take measures that exacerbate the situation.”
North Korea rejected South Korea’s offer of talks, instead sending troops into a demilitarized zone. The areas was disarmed in 2018 following an agreement between South Korea’s Moon Jae-In and North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Ung.
The South Korean Ministry of National Defense issued a statement Tuesday saying the country’s military was ready and closely monitoring the North Korean military’s movements to prevent any crisis from escalating as they manage the situation.
“If North Korea carries out military provocation, the South Korean military will respond strongly,” added the defense ministry.
Deputy national security adviser Kim You Geun said in a briefing that the destruction of the office has dashed hopes for the development of inter-Korean relations.
“We’re making clear that the North is entirely responsible for all the consequences this might cause,” he added.