North Korea blew up an inter-Korean liaison office building on Tuesday just north of the tense Korean border, South Korea has said.
Seoul’s Unification Ministry says the destruction of the building at the North Korean border town of Kaesong happened at 2:49pm local time (05:49 GMT) Tuesday.
Pyongyang has made several threats against Seoul in recent days, and had threatened to destroy the office set up in 2018, if defector groups there continue with their campaign to send propaganda leaflets across the border.
Several defector-led groups send leaflets, together with food, one-dollar bills, mini radios and USB sticks containing South Korean dramas and news, over the border and have said they will continue with their planned campaign this week despite the North Korean threats and South Korea saying it will take legal action.
The leaflets also usually carry messages critical of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
South Korea on alert after threat from sister of North Korean leader
Some analysts say North Korea appears to be using the leaflet issue to increase pressure on South Korea amid stalled denuclearisation talks.
“The leaflets are an excuse or justification to raise the ante, manufacture a crisis, and bully Seoul to get what it wants,” said Duyeon Kim, a senior adviser at the International Crisis Group, a Belgium-based independent non-profit organisation.
On Saturday, Kim Yo Jong, who serves as a senior official of the ruling Workers’ Party and is Kim’s sister, said she ordered the military to prepare for unspecified “next action”.
South Korea said the defector groups’ actions increase cross-border tensions, pose risks to residents living near the border and cause environmental damage.
On MOnday, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in urged Pyongyang to keep peace agreements reached by the two leaders and return to dialogue.