Pyongyang rejects Seoul’s offer of envoys, vows to redeploy troops to border
SEOUL (SOUTH KOREA) – North Korea on Wednesday rejected South Korea’s proposal to send special envoys to ease escalating tensions over the activity of defector groups and stalled reconciliation efforts and vowed to redeploy troops to border areas.
The announcements made by state media agency KCNA came a day after North Korea blew up a building housing the joint liaison office in a border town.
Experts say any move to invalidate cross-border peace deals pose a major setback to South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in’s efforts to foster reconciliation with the North.
They could also complicate the efforts of US President Donald Trump, who is already grappling with the coronavirus pandemic and anti-racism protests, to persuade Pyongyang to let go of its nuclear and missile programmes.
On Monday, Moon offered to send his national security adviser Chung Eui-yong and spy chief Suh Hoon as special envoys, the KCNA said. But Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and a senior ruling party official, “flatly rejected the tactless and sinister proposal”.
“The solution to the present crisis between the North and the South caused by the incompetence and irresponsibility of the South Korean authorities is impossible and it can be terminated only when a proper price is paid,” KCNA said.
North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun, the ruling Workers’ Party’s official newspaper, published photos showing the liaison office before and after its demolition.
Kim Yo Jong also lashed out at Moon in another KCNA statement, saying he had failed to implement any of the 2018 pacts and “put his neck into the noose of pro-US flunkeyism”.
South Korea’s Blue House reacted saying the criticism of Moon was rude and senseless, and damaged the trust built by the leaders of the two nations.
“We will no longer accept such unreasonable behaviour,” Blue House spokesman Yoon Do-han said at a briefing.
Moon offered to play the role of a mediator between Trump and Kim Jong Un as they desisted from trading threats and insults in 2017, leading to a series of meetings in 2018 and 2019 that were high on symbolism but which failed to achieve a breakthrough on denuclearisation.
In a separate KCNA dispatch on Wednesday, a spokesman for the General Staff of the (North) Korean People’s Army (KPA) said it would send troops to Mount Kumgang and Kaesong near the border, where the two Koreas had carried out joint economic projects earlier.
The KPA spokesman also said police posts that had been withdrawn from the heavily fortified Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) would be reinstalled, while artillery units near the western sea border, where defectors frequently send propaganda leaflets, would be reinforced.
Seoul’s defence ministry has urged North Korea to abide by a 2018 inter-Korean military pact, under which both sides vowed to cease “all hostile acts” and dismantled a number of structures along the DMZ.
(Photos syndicated via Reuters)
This story has been edited by BH staff and is published from a syndicated field