North Korea has vowed to abolish an inter-Korean liaison office as a responsive measure against anti-Pyongyang leaflets sent from South Korea, even after Seoul promised to ban such leaflet campaigns, it was reported on Saturday.
The United Front Department (UFD), which handles inter-Korean affairs, said in a statement on Friday that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, ordered officials to look into implementing a series of measures she threatened to take a day earlier unless Seoul stops North Korean defectors from sending such leaflets, reports Yonhap News Agency.
The hardline statement came despite South Korea’s promise to take legislative measures to ban flying-in of propaganda leaflets, and appears to be aimed at increasing pressure on Seoul to make sure to follow through with its pledge.
“Our determination is to follow as far as the evil cycle of the confrontation leads while facing the situation squarely, because our path is always straight,” a UFD spokesperson said in a statement carried by Pyongyang’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Saturday.
“As the first thing, we will definitely withdraw the idling North-South Joint Liaison Office housed in the Kaesong Industrial Zone to be followed by effectuation of various measures which we had already implied,” the spokesperson added.
Closing the liaison office was one of the measures that the leader’s sister threatened to take, along with scrapping an inter-Korean military tension reduction agreement and completely dismantling a now-shuttered joint industrial park.
The UFD said the North has confirmed that Kim Yo-jong is the top official handling inter-Korean issues, adding Seoul should “read each word and phrase” of her statement because the warning was issued by the one “looking after affairs with South Korea”.
Her official title is first vice department director of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party.
Shortly after her warning on Thursday, South Korea called for an immediate halt to such leaflet-sending and pledged to legislate a ban on such activity, said the Yonhap News Agency report.
The office of President Moon Jae-in also said that leaflet-sending does “no good but harm” and should be dealt sternly with.
North Korean defectors and anti-Pyongyang activists have occasionally sent a large number of leaflets via giant balloons sharply criticizing the communist regime and its leader.
These are often flown with $1 bills and USB memory sticks to get more North Koreans to pick up the leaflets.
The latest warning came as cross-border relations have been chilled amid a stalemate in denuclearization talks between Pyongyang and Washington since the no-deal summit in February last year between Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump.