North Korea did not answer South Korea’s liaison office phone call on Tuesday after vowing to cut off all inter-Korean communication lines later in the day in anger over Seoul’s failure to stop defectors from sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets.
“The liaison office attempted to call North Korea this morning, but the North did not answer,” the South’s Unification Ministry said.
North Korea also did not answer calls via military hotlines, according to the Defence Ministry.
Earlier in the day, the North said it will sever all communication lines with the South at noon Tuesday, accusing Seoul of turning a blind eye to North Korean defectors sending propaganda leaflets criticizing Pyongyang’s leadership, reports Yonhap News Agency.
The North also said it will treat the South as an “enemy”.
“The disgusting riff-raff have committed hostile acts against North Korea by taking advantage of the south Korean authorities’ irresponsible stance and with their connivance. They dared to hurt the dignity of our supreme leadership,” Pyongyang’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in a report.
“As far as the issue of the dignity of our supreme leadership is concerned, there can neither be a pardon nor an opportunity. They should be forced to pay dearly for this,” it said.
The KCNA also said that the North “reached a conclusion that there is no need to sit face to face with the South Korean authorities and there is no issue to discuss with them, as they have only aroused our dismay”.
“Accordingly, the relevant field of our side will completely cut off and shut down” all communications lines with the South at noon on Tuesday, including the hotline between the North’s ruling Workers’ Party and the South’s presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, as well as a liaison line and military communication lines, the KCNA said.
The decisions were made at a meeting attended by Kim Yo-jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and Kim Yong-chol, vice chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party Korea (WPK), Yonhap News Agency quoted KCNA as saying.
The KCNA noted that cutting off all communication lines 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 North has been vehemently protesting propaganda leaflets since last week.
The communication lines that the North vowed to completely cut off were established amid a peaceful atmosphere after South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un held three summits in 2018.
Inter-Korean relations have remained chilly since their no-deal summit in February last year.
Pyongyang has balked at all of South Korea’s offers for talks and cooperation amid a deadlock in denuclearization talks between Pyongyang and Washington.