North Korea Cuts All Official Communication Channels with South Korea
North Korea has announced it will cut off all official communication channels with South Korea, including a hotline between the two nations’ leaders.
It said this was the first in a series of actions, describing South Korea as “the enemy”.
Daily calls, which have been made to a liaison office located in the North Korean border city of Kaesong, will cease from June 9.
North and South Korea had set up the office to reduce tensions after talks in 2018.
The two states are technically still at war because no peace agreement was reached when the Korean War ended in 1953.
North Korea “will completely cut off and shut down the liaison line between the authorities of the North and the South, which has been maintained through the North-South joint liaison office… from 12:00 on 9 June 2020,” the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) report said.
Military communication channels will also be cut, it said.
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When the liaison office was temporarily closed in January because of Covid-19 restrictions, contact between the two states was maintained by phone.
North Korea and South Korea made two phone calls a day through the office, at 09:00 and 17:00. On June 8, the South said that for the first time in 21 months, its morning call had gone unanswered, although contact was made in the afternoon.
“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,” KNCA said.
Kim Yo-jong, Kim Jong-un’s sister, threatened last week to close the office unless South Korea stopped defector groups from sending leaflets into North Korea.
She said the leaflet campaign was a hostile act that violated the peace agreements made during the 2018 Panmunjom summit between South Krea’s Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un.
North Korean defectors occasionally send balloons carrying leaflets critical of the communist region into the North, sometimes with supplies to entice North Koreans to pick them up.
North Koreans can only get news from state-controlled media, and most do not have access to the internet.
Ties between North Korea and South Korea appeared to improve in 2018, when the leaders of both countries met three times. Such high-level meetings had not taken place in over a decade.