North Korea on Tuesday destroyed an unoccupied inter-Korean liaison office in the South Korean border city of Kaesong.
The inter-Korean liaison office was established in 2018 as part of a series of projects aimed at reducing tensions between the two Koreas.
The destroyed building was being seen as a posturing move considering the fact that the office has been closed since January because of the pandemic; in other words, property damage with no loss of life.
The peace deal engineered by U.S. President Donald J. Trump was still on the table, while the two Koreas postured like two school kids threatening to fight in a schoolyard, but neither wanting to actually hit the other.
What set this round off were pamphlets sent by defectors via helium balloons from the South carrying messages critical of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, including human rights abuses, provoking the famously thin-skinned leader into an act of puffery to save face.
South Korea has now stated that it plans legal action against two of the defector groups, saying their actions fuel cross-border tensions, pose risks to residents living near the border and cause environmental damage.
South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in urged Pyongyang on Monday to keep peace agreements reached by the two leaders and return to dialogue.
According to the Rodong Sinmun, the official national propaganda newspaper of North Korea, the action was in retaliation to “take avenge on the enemies in order to allay the surging indignation of our people.”
The Epoch Times reported that on Saturday, Kim Jon Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, who serves as a senior official of the ruling Workers’ Party, had ordered the department in charge of inter-Korean affairs to “decisively carry out the next action” and that “before long, a tragic scene of the useless north-south joint liaison office completely collapsed would be seen.”
Prior to the bombing, Rodong Sinmun published the warning, “We have already made a conclusion that there is no need for us to sit face to face with the South Korean authorities and discuss things with them any longer. What is left for us is to make them pay dearly for their heinous crimes. We have decided to take a series of retaliatory actions to punish the betrayers and human scum.”
One of the favorite tactics of North Korean defector groups in South Korea is to launch balloons into North Korea attached with propaganda pamphlets.
Many of the balloons also contained USB drives containing South Korean dramas and news, food, mini radios in order to combat N. Korea’s censored media, as well as $1 bills, to remind them of the wonders of American-sponsored capitalism.
Meanwhile, North Korean troops are reportedly prepared to enter the demilitarized zone that divides itself from South Korea.
The balloon propaganda campaigns in Korea were originally used by both North and South Korea and have been used as a distribution method since the Korean War and include other contents with the balloons.
Originally, these campaigns were organized by the governments and militaries of the Korean states.
More recently, however, they are mainly organized by South Korean non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that regularly involve themselves in balloon release events that aim to send materials censored in North Korea, as well as various other goods, to the North Korean people.
Maybe when the final Trump peace deal is sealed there will be occasion to truly release all the balloons in celebration.