Fearing to receive anti-Pyongyang flyers from South Korea, North Korea cut all ties to Seoul from Tuesday.
North Korea announced that it would cut its political and military communication channels with the South Korean “enemy” on Tuesday. For some experts, the announcement was Pyongyang’s attempt to create a crisis from scratch.
Since last week, the communist regime has made harsh criticisms of its neighbor to the south over the sending of anti-Pyongyang flyers to its territory by militants. He organized large-scale rallies across the country in support of his threats.
The latter come at a time when relations between the two neighbors are deadlocked despite three summits in 2018 between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. And three days from the anniversary of the first summit between Kim and President Donald Trump in Singapore in 2018.
“Disappointed” with the North Korean decision, the US State Department “urged North Korea to resume the path of diplomacy and cooperation”.
The North has cut off most of its contacts with the South after the failure of the second Trump-Kim summit in February 2019, which left the North Korean nuclear negotiations stalled. Analysts say Pyongyang has made no substantial steps to abandon its weapons programs, which have resulted in severe UN sanctions.
And he is turning his ire more and more towards Seoul, carrying out these last months of military tests and engaging in provocations as when he targeted in May a surveillance post of the South in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) which separates the two Koreas.
Pyongyang “will completely cut the link between the authorities of North and South”, as well as other channels of communication between the armed forces or the political parties in power in the two countries, detailed the state agency Korean KCNA. This interruption was scheduled for 12 noon Tuesday (5 a.m. Swiss).
KCNA said the decision was made by Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong Un’s influential sister, and by deputy chairman of the ruling Workers’ Party Kim Yong Chol. An initiative which aims to demonstrate the growing authority of the young woman.
She threatened last week to void the military agreement between the two countries unless Seoul prevents activists from sending anti-Pyongyang flyers. This agreement was signed in September 2018 during Moon Jae-in’s visit to the North, to ease tensions at the border. But it has not really been implemented yet.
Tuesday morning calls from south to north on special lines went unanswered, officials in Seoul said.
The North Korean press release denounces North Korean dissidents and other activists who for years have had the habit of dropping balloons laden with leaflets north denouncing the Communist regime’s human rights record and its nuclear ambitions.
According to Pyongyang, the South Korean authorities are colluding with these “hostile actions”, “which had the consequence of leading inter-Korean relations to disaster.”
“We came to the conclusion that there was no need to sit face to face with the South Korean authorities and that there was no point in arguing with them, because they only ‘fuel our dismay,’ writes the agency.
Experts point to an acceleration of Pyongyang’s strategy to put pressure on his neighbor. Since the shooting at the DMZ – which the South describes as accidental – the North “has tried to create a stir with little provocation,” said Shin Beom-chul of the Korean National Security Research Institute.
“He is trying to shake South Korea’s policy towards the north,” he added. “With Kim Yo Jong at the helm, this will not be an isolated event.” “They start with South Korea and then the hard line will be extended to the United States.”