North Korea announced Tuesday it will cut off all communication channels with South Korea, according to the North’s Korean Central News Agency. The reason is activists from floating anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border.
North Korea may be deliberately creating tensions to bolster internal unity or launch bigger provocation in the face of persistent US-led sanctions. On Tuesday, the North Korean warning came as relations between the two neighbouring states have been strained amid a prolonged deadlock in broader nuclear diplomacy between NK and the USA.
As the state-run news agency reports, all cross-border communication lines will be cut off on Tuesday noon. In fact, that will be “the first step of the determination to completely shut down all contact means with South Korea and get rid of unnecessary things.”
“The South Korean authorities connived at the hostile acts against (North Korea) by the riff-raff, while trying to dodge heavy responsibility with nasty excuses,” KCNA said. “They should be forced to pay dearly for this.”
Inter-Korean relations flourished in 2018 when Kim Jong Un entered negotiations on the future of his nuclear weapons. This week, Pyongyang’s decision to cut communication channels with South Korea wasn’t commented by its South neighbour.
However, Seoul has recently said it would push for new legal steps to ban activists from launching leaflets in an attempt to save faltering ties with North Korea. But the North has countered the South Korean response lacks sincerity.
The leafleting has been a long-running source of tensions between the two Koreas. In recent years, NK defectors and conservative activists have floated huge balloons carrying leaflets criticizing Mr Kim over his nuclear ambitions and abysmal human rights record.
South Korea has typically let activists launch such balloons, citing their rights to exercise freedom of speech, but it sometimes sent police officers to stop them from floating leaflets in times of tensions with North Korea.