North Korea said on Wednesday that it might redeploy troops to demilitarised border areas, rejecting South Korea’s offer to send special envoys to ease tensions and effectively ending 2018 reconciliation efforts.
The moves, reported by state press agency KCNA, came each day after Pyongyang destroyed the joint liaison office that had been found out within the border town of Kaesong as a part of the peace agreements, and drew a robust rebuke from South Korea’s presidential office.
South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in had on Monday offered to send his national security adviser Chung Eui-yong and spy chief Suh Hoon to Pyongyang as special envoys, and urged Pyongyang to return to dialogue.
But Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and a senior governing party official, “flatly rejected the tactless and sinister proposal,” consistent with KCNA.
Kim ridiculed Moon’s offer and accused him of using envoys to bridge over crises and suggesting “preposterous proposals.” KCNA said.
“The solution to this crisis between the North and therefore the South caused by the incompetence and irresponsibility of the South Korean authorities is impossible and it are often terminated only the right price is paid.”
In response, Moon’s office said the South would not accept “unreasonable behaviour” by the North.
Yoon Do-han, a spokesman for the presidential Blue House, said Kim’s criticism of Moon was rude and senseless and “fundamentally damaged the trust built by the 2 leaders.”
The escalation, undoing cross-border peace deals linked to economic development, would be a serious setback to Moon’s bid for more lasting reconciliation with North Korea , and would further complicate already stalled US-led efforts to influence Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear and missile programmes.
Kim Yo also harshly criticised Moon in another KCNA statement, saying he had turned inter-Korean ties into a “US puppet.”
“In the eyes of the Kims, Moon’s administration gave an excessive amount of false hope that it might defy US pressure to maneuver their relations forward,” Chun Yung-woo, a former South Korean nuclear envoy, told Reuters press agency .
In a separate KCNA report on Wednesday, a spokesman for the overall Staff of the (North) Korean People’s Army (KPA) said it might dispatch troops to Mount Kumgang and Kaesong near the border, where the 2 Koreas previously administered joint economic projects.
Police posts that had been withdrawn from the heavily fortified DMZ (DMZ) would be reinstalled, while artillery units near the western sea border where defectors frequently send leaflets would be reinforced with the readiness alert heightened to the extent of “top-class combat duty”, the spokesman said.
North Korea also will resume its own propaganda campaign, sending anti-Seoul leaflets across the border, he added.
“Areas favourable for scattering leaflets against the South will open on the entire battlefront and our people’s drive for scattering leaflets are going to be guaranteed militarily and thorough-going security measures are going to be taken,” he said.
The KPA said on Tuesday that it had been studying an “action plan” to re-enter zones that had been demilitarised under a 2018 inter-Korean military pact and “turn the battlefront into a fortress”.
Seoul’s defence ministry has urged North Korea to abide by the agreement, under which each side agreed to cease “all hostile acts” and dismantled variety of structures along the DMZ.
Monday marked the 20th anniversary of the primary inter-Korean summit. Moon expressed regret that North Korea-US and inter-Korean relations had not progressed as hoped.