June 16, 2020 16:53
North Korea on Tuesday blew up the inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong, just three days after leader Kim Jong-un's sister Kim Yo-jong had warned that the "useless" office would be demolished.
According to the Unification Ministry, the North blew up the office at around 2:50 p.m. in an explosion that could be heard for miles around as smoke drifted over the border town.
The official [North] Korean Central News Agency shortly afterward reported that the regime "completely ruined" the office after cutting off all the communication lines between the two Koreas.
Cheong Wa Dae convened an emergency meeting of top security officials a couple of hours after the demolition.
Only a day earlier, President Moon Jae-in had pleaded with North Korea to return to the dialogue table, ironically in an address marking the 20th anniversary of the historic inter-Korean summit between former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and then North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang on June 15, 2000.
The demolition is the latest stage in an increasingly hysterical bid for attention by North Korea, which has been hit hard by international sanctions and a complete border lockdown amid the coronavirus epidemic.
It was ostensibly sparked by South Korean activists floating helium balloons with propaganda leaflets across the border, but the South Korean government had already obligingly promised to crack down on the campaign, which has been going on for years, and the regime's true motives remain a mystery.
The office was refurbished entirely with South Korean money at a cost of some W9.7 billion to the taxpayer (US$1=W1,215). It opened in September 2018, but no business of any significance has been conducted there since Kim Jong-un's second summit with U.S. President Donald Trump failed in February last year.
Officials went there to work every day until they were evacuated on Jan. 30 due to the epidemic, and the office has remained empty since.
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