North Korea threatened to permanently shut a liaison office with South Korea as it continued to condemn its rival for failing to prevent activists from sending anti-North Korean leaflets across the border.
The statement by North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party on Friday came a day after the powerful sister of leader Kim Jong Un said her country would end a military agreement reached with South Korea in 2018 to reduce tensions if Seoul fails to stop the activists.
Kim Yo Jong also said North Korea could permanently shut the liaison office and a joint factory park in the border town of Kaesong, which have been symbols of reconciliation between the two countries.
Desperate to keep alive a faltering diplomacy with North Korea, South Korea in response said it would push new laws to ban activists from flying leaflets by balloon to the North, which triggered a debate over freedom of speech.
But an unidentified spokesman of the Workers’ Party’s inter-Korean Affairs Department said Seoul’s promise lacked sincerity, and the scrapping of the liaison office will be the first in a series of North Korean steps that would cause extreme suffering for the South.
The statement also confirmed an elevated status for Kim Yo Jong, who was described as her brother’s top official for inter-Korean affairs.