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North and South Korea showed latest sign that their ties are deteriorating

North and South Korea showed latest sign that their ties are deteriorating

On June 16, news broke out that North Korea has blown up a joint liaison office which they use to communicate with South Korea located in a four-story building in the town of Kaesong just north of the demilitarized zone that divides them.

Reports described the event as a “terrific explosion” that happened around 2:50 p.m. local time. The place was completely destroyed, somehow a message that replicates their relationship.

This photo provided by the North Korean government shows the explosion of an inter-Korean liaison office building in Kaesong, North Korea, Tuesday, June 16, 2020. South Korea says that North Korea has exploded the inter-Korean liaison office building just north of the tense Korean border. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

The said office remained closed since January due to the COVID-19 pandemic threat. The South Korea staff haven’t set their feet there yet.

Powerful symbolism between North and South Korea

This destruction was interpreted as a powerful symbolism of their ties rapidly deteriorating. Just in the previous week, North Korea announced it was cutting off all communication with South Korea over the controversial leaflets that were reported to have tainted the deal between Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in 2018 when they agreed to refrain from “all hostile acts and eliminating their means, including broadcasting through loudspeakers and distribution of leaflets.”

It was less than three years ago that the two countries declared “a new era of peace.”

The joint liaison office in Kaesong Industrial Complex is seen in this undated file photo taken in 2018. (Yonhap News Agency | Reuters)

Experts say that the leaflets likely angered North Korea’s political leadership. However, other believe that this is a tactic to brew a crisis.

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According to Moon, they should return to negotiating rather than coming back to the habit of “confrontation by cutting the communication and raising tension.”

“The path that two Koreas must walk is clear. Like the river that twists and turns but eventually reaches the sea, the South and the North must keep their optimistic faith and take each step towards national reconciliation, peace, and unification, however slow it may be,” he stated.

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