North Korea Just Blew Up Liaison Office With South

North Korea blows up joint liaison office with South Korea in North's city of Kaesong
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 16, 2020 6:33 AM CDT
North Korea Just Blew Up Liaison Office With South
In this March 2, 2019, file photo, Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, is seen at Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi, Vietnam.   (Jorge Silva/Pool Photo via AP, File)

Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, issued an ominous-sounding warning over the weekend, and it looks like she's made good on her word: the North blew up the joint liaison office it shared with South Korea in the North Korean border city of Kaesong, Reuters reports, prompting an emergency meeting Tuesday by South Korea's national security council. Kim Yo Jong had hinted on Saturday that the "useless" four-story structure would see its demise unless "human scum" (North Korea's code for defectors now in South Korea) stopped sending anti-North messages and food, cash, and USB sticks with news programs over the border. South Korea's defense ministry released surveillance footage showing the blast, which took out the "gleaming blue glass" liaison office and partially collapsed a nearby high-rise that housed the South's officials.

KCNA, North Korea's state media agency, proclaimed the office "completely destroyed by a terrific explosion" at around 3pm local time Tuesday, per CNN. "The recent foolish act of daring hurt the dignity of our supreme leadership," it continued. The office, which had been shut down since January due to the pandemic, had housed officials from the North on the fourth floor, officials from the South on the second floor, and meetings in a conference area on the third floor. South Korea paid nearly $9 million in 2018 to repurpose the building, which had previously been used as a jointly run industrial complex until it shut down in 2016 amid tensions over the North's nuclear program. Analysts say the North may have blown up the building to try to create a crisis to give it leverage in negotiations with the US, per the BBC. The South has tried to persuade defectors from sending the anti-North messages, often by balloon, but activist groups say they plan on continuing. (Read more North Korea stories.)

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