North Korea blows up border office as tensions rise

North Korea blows up border office as tensions rise
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North Korea blew up an inter-Korean border office on Tuesday as tensions rise between Pyongyang and South Korea.

North Korea's Korean Central News Agency said the office in Kaesong, just north of the South Korean border, was “tragically ruined with a terrific explosion,” The Associated Press and Reuters reported. The office has been shut down since January due to coronavirus concerns. 

The news agency said “enraged people” wanted to “force human scum and those, who have sheltered the scum, to pay dearly for their crimes,” referring to North Korean defectors who sent propaganda leaflets with anti-Pyongyang sentiments across the border, according to the news outlets. 

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The flyers were typically sent in by balloon or in bottles across the river along with food, $1 bills, mini radios and USB sticks with information on South Korea. South Korea has pledged to take legal action against the defector groups that are sending propaganda over the border.

The South’s Yonhap News Agency shared photos of smoke rising from a complex of buildings where the first liaison office since the countries' split in 1945 opened in 2018.

South Korea's deputy national security adviser, Kim You-guen, said the explosion “broke the expectations of all people who hope for the development of inter-Korean relations and lasting peace on the peninsula,” Reuters reported

“We’re making clear that the North is entirely responsible for all the consequences this might cause,” he said.

China’s foreign ministry on Tuesday for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula in response to the destruction of the liaison office, according to Reuters

North Korean state media reported on Tuesday that its military leaders were figuring out an “action plan” to move back into zones demilitarized in a 2018 agreement, the news outlets reported.