South Korea’s unification ministry has reported that the North set off an explosion at the join liaison office at 2.49pm, in the border town of Kaesong in North Korea. Yonhap news agency reported that the military sources had heard an explosion and saw smoke coming from the building. This comes after the sister of dictator Kim Jong-un, Kim Yo-jong, said: “Before long, a tragic sense of the useless North-South joint liaison office completely collapsed mould be seen.”
She said the leaflet campaign was a hostile act, which she claimed was a violation of the peace agreements.
The site was opened in 2018 to help both Koreas to communicate, as they were in a state of war.
It had not been used since January, due to COVID-19 instructions.
North Korea threatened to permanently shut the office as it condemned South Korea for failing to prevent activists from sending anti North-Korean leaflets across the border.
South Korea said in a statement it would “respond strongly” if the North “continues to worsen the situation”.
The security council said: “We are making full effort to manage the situation stably so that the situation does not escalate into a military crisis.
“If North Korea carries out military provocation, our military will respond with powerful force.”
Tensions between North and South Korea had been mounting for weeks, following defector groups in the South sending propaganda across the border.
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According to the Financial Times, Van Jackson, a former Pentagon official now at Victoria University of Wellington, said blowing up the liaison office happened because “North Korea feels betrayed by Trump and still needs the sanctions relief it thinks it’s owed”.
He added: “But attacking the US directly incurs avoidable escalation risks. Targeting South Korea is calibrated aggression.”
As a response, the North Korean army has warned it is ready to enter the demilitarised zone between the two countries.
South Korea has said the country is working with the US to monitor the military moves in the North.
The South Korean Government has appealed for calm and urged North Korea to avoid spiralling tensions further.