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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has suspended plans for “military action” against South Korea, state news agency KCNA reported.

Recent weeks saw a rising tide of angry rhetoric from North Korea over activist plans to send leaflets with anti-North Korean messages over the border.

Last week, North Korea blew up the joint liaison office with South Korea and also threatened to send troops to the border area.

At a meeting chaired by leader Kim Jong-un, state media said the decision was taken to suspend military action.

The Central Military Commission made its decision after taking what it called the “prevailing situation” into consideration.

Image source Wikimedia

North Korea Bombs Joint Liaison Office with South Korea

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North Korea also began to dismantle loudspeakers it had erected only last week, traditionally used to blast anti-South Korean messages over the border, Yonhap reported.

The move represents a notable de-escalation in rhetoric after Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo-jong’s orders to the army to “decisively carry out the next action” – in part because of what Pyongyang said was Seoul’s failure to stop activists floating balloons with anti-regime leaflets over the border.

The meeting also discussed documents outlining measures for “further bolstering the war deterrent of the country,” KCNA reported.

Tensions between North and South Korea appeared to be on the mend when in 2018, leaders of both countries met for the first time at the border.

The historic summit saw both sides pledge to rid the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons – and in the months that followed, there were efforts to improve ties and maintain dialogue.

However, the relationship has been on a downward spiral after a failed summit between Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump.

And the past few weeks saw relations deteriorate especially rapidly – prompted by defector groups in South Korea sending propaganda across the border,

South Korean activists typically send balloons that carry objects like leaflets, USB sticks or DVDs with criticism of the Pyongyang regime, as well as South Korean news reports or even Korean dramas.

All of this is aimed at breaking North Korea’s control on domestic information with the hope that people might eventually topple the regime from within.

The South Korean government has already tried to stop groups sending leaflets across the border, arguing their actions put residents near the border at risk. The move prompted North Korea to renew threats of military action – and shortly afterwards it blew up a joint liaison office that it had established with South Korea in 2018.

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North Korea has blown up a joint liaison office with South Korea near the border town of Kaesong.

The incident comes just hours after North Korea renewed threats of military action at the Korean border.

The site was opened in 2018 to help the Koreas – officially in a state of war – to communicate. The joint liaison office had been empty since January due to Covid-19 restrictions.

In a statement, South Korea warned it would “respond strongly” if North Korea “continues to worsen the situation”.

The destruction of the office, the statement said, “abandons the hopes of everyone who wanted the development of inter-Korean relations and peace settlement in the Korean Peninsula”.

“The government makes it clear that all responsibility of this situation lies in the North.”

Image source Wikimedia

North Korea Cuts All Official Communication Channels with South Korea

North Korea Fires Gunshots at South Korean Guard Post in DMZ

Kim Jong-un Appears In Public After 20 Days of Absence

Russia expressed concern at the renewed tensions between the Koreas.

Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, said on June 16: “We call for restraint from all the sides.”

Tensions between North and South Korea have been escalating for weeks, prompted by defector groups in the South sending propaganda across the border.

Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo-jong – considered a close and powerful ally – threatened at the weekend to demolish the office.

There were hopes for improved relations between North Korea and South Korea and its close ally the US after President Donald Trump met Kim Jong-un at the North-South border last June, but nothing materialized and the atmosphere has since deteriorated.

North Korea is under crippling US and UN economic sanctions over its militarized nuclear program. Washington has not yet commented on the North’s latest action.

In recent weeks, North Korea has repeatedly condemned South Korea for allowing propaganda into its territory.

Defector groups regularly send such material via balloons, or even drones, into North Korea.