• N. Korea Blows Up Joint Liaison Office, Further Raising Tensions

Smoke billows from the joint inter-Korean liaison office in the border town of Kaesong on Tuesday.
Smoke billows from the joint inter-Korean liaison office in the border town of Kaesong on Tuesday.
[Anchor]

North Korea has blown up a joint inter-Korean liaison office in the border town of Kaesong.

Seoul's unification ministry said the building was destroyed at around 2:50 p.m. but didn't provide further details.

The provocation came as the North has been ratcheting up tensions in recent days in protest over defector groups in South Korea sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border.

Our Sehhyeong Kim joins us in the studio.

Sehhyeong, what's the latest?

[Reporter]

An official at the unification ministry made the announcement this afternoon after it was reported that smoke was detected and sounds of an explosion were heard near the Kaesong Industrial Complex close to the liaison office.

Shortly after, Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul said it was a predicted move.

The North's Korean Central News Agency confirmed that it completely destroyed the office in a report late this afternoon.

Now, this explosion came after Kim Yo-jong, the influential sister of leader Kim Jong-un, hinted on Saturday that the North could take military action against the South.

She mentioned the liaison office, saying it could be "completely collapsed."

It also came on the same day the KCNA reported that its military is reviewing plans to reenter a border zone that was previously disarmed under an inter-Korean tension reduction agreement.

The regime has been stepping up fiery rhetoric since last month after an exchange of gunfire at the Demilitarized Zone and just last week, the North refused to answer communication lines after it said it would cut them all off.

After the explosion today, the South Korean military said it is heightening its readiness posture and watching the North in the case of military incidents along the Military Demarcation Line that separates the two Koreas.

Now, the liaison office opened in September 2018 in line with an agreement reached during President Moon Jae-in's first meeting with leader Kim in April of that year.

The two Koreas had suspended its operation since early this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

[Anchor]

Cheong Wa Dae's National Security Council has convened an emergency meeting.

Chung Eui-yong, the director of the National Security Office, is presiding over the meeting and participants are likely discussing response measures.

<Photo: Yonhap News>






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