Breaking: North Korea strikes, blows up liaison office with South

Commissioning of the liaison office

North Korea has blown up its joint liaison office with the South near the border town of Kaesong, both sides have confirmed.

The move comes just hours after the North renewed threats of military action at the Korean border.

The destroyed site, which is in the North’s territory, was opened in 2018 to help the two Koreas – technically in a state of war – to communicate.

The liaison office has been empty since January due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Tensions between North and South Korea have been escalating for weeks, prompted by defector groups in the South sending propaganda across the border.

North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), using characteristically emphatic language, said the action reflected “the mindset of the enraged people to surely force human scum and those, who have sheltered the scum, to pay dearly for their crimes”.

The North Korean leader’s sister, Kim Yo-jong – considered a close and powerful ally – threatened to demolish the office in a statement at the weekend.

Her brother, Kim Jong-un, has ruled North Korea as Supreme Leader since 2011.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry in Seoul confirmed that at 14:49 local time (05:49 GMT) there was an explosion.

In recent weeks, North Korea has repeatedly condemned the South for allowing propaganda into its territory.

Defector groups regularly send such material via balloons, or even drones, into the North.

Last Tuesday, Pyongyang announced it was severing all official communication links with Seoul.

Over the weekend, Kim Yo-jong threatened to send troops into the demilitarised zone (DMZ) at the inter-Korean border.

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