Nоrth Korea threatens to reenter demilitarized areas, blows up liaison office

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un and his sister Kim Yo Jong.

North Korea’s military on Tuesday threatened to move back into zones that were demilitarized under inter-Korean peace agreements, news wires reported. The General Staff of the Korean People’s Army said it’s reviewing a ruling party recommendation to advance into unspecified border areas that had been demilitarized under agreements with the South, which would “turn the front line into a fortress.” Later on the day North Korea blew up an inter-Korean liaison office building just north of the heavily armed border with South Korea.

The demolition of the building, which is located on North Korean territory and had no South Koreans working there, is likely the most provocative thing North Korea has done since it entered nuclear diplomacy in 2018 after a US-North Korean standoff had many fearing war. Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, days earlier announced the North would demolish a “useless” inter-Korean liaison office in the border town of Kaesong and that she would leave it to the military to come up with the next step of retaliation against the “enemy” South.

Seoul's defence ministry called for Pyongyang to abide by the 2018 agreement, in which both sides' militaries vowed to cease "all hostile acts" and dismantled a number of structures along the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone between the two countries. "We're taking the situation seriously," ministry spokeswoman Choi Hyun-soo told a briefing. "Our military is maintaining readiness posture to be able to respond to any situation." South Korea's President Moon Jae-in urged Pyongyang to return to dialogue.

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