FILE PHOTO – The North Korea flag flutters next to concertina wire at the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia March 9, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su
SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea said on Tuesday it will sever hotlines with South Korea as the first step toward shutting down all means of contact with Seoul, state news agency KCNA reported.
For several days, North Korea has lashed out at South Korea, threatening to close an inter-Korean liaison office and other projects if the South does not stop defectors from sending leaflets and other material into the North.
Top government officials in North Korea, including leader Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, and Kim Yong Chol, vice-chairman of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, determined “that the work towards the South should thoroughly turn into the one against an enemy,” KCNA said.
As a first step, at noon on Tuesday, North Korea will end lines of communication at an inter-Korean liaison office, and hotlines between the two militaries and presidential offices, among others, the report said.
The official pronouncements appeared to be a setback for a thaw in tensions in the past two years. The two Koreas remain technically at war because the 1950-1953 Korean War ended with an armistice rather than a peace treaty.
The people of North Korea have “been angered by the treacherous and cunning behavior of the South Korean authorities with whom we still have lots of accounts to settle,” KCNA said.
The report accused South Korean authorities of irresponsibly allowing defectors to hurt the dignity of North Korea’s supreme leadership.
“This was a sign of hostility to all our people,” KCNA said. “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.”
Reporting by Sangmi Cha; Editing by Chris Reese and Grant McCool