N Korea shuts down hotline with S Korea over leaflets

North Korea announced it is shutting down a telephone hotline with South Korea over a leaflet campaign by defectors from the isolated state, news wires reported.

Last week, North Korea threatened to pull out of a military agreement with the South unless the government in Seoul takes action on activists sending leaflets into the reclusive neighbouring nation.

Pyongyang "will completely cut off and shut down the liaison line" between North and South from noon on Tuesday, the official Korean Central News Agency said, along with military hotlines and a communication link between the headquarters of the North's ruling Workers' Party and the South's presidential office.

The decision was taken by Kim Yo Jong, the leader's sister and key adviser, and ruling party vice chairman Kim Yong Chol, KCNA said, in an explicit demonstration of the sibling's increasing authority in government. Last week she issued a statement threatening to scrap a military pact with the South and close a liaison office -- where activities have already been suspended for months due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Some 500,000 leaflets criticizing the North Korean leader for threatening to take "shocking actual action with a new strategic nuclear weapon" have allegedly been distributed.

Analysts say the move signals an acceleration in Pyongyang's strategy to ramp up pressure on the South.

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