Next escalation: North Korea sends soldiers to the border with South Korea

Next escalation: North Korea sends soldiers to the border with South Korea

Pyongyang makes new threats against South Korea almost every day. The country’s army leadership is now topping up. North Korea plans to conduct target practice again at the border.

Despite warnings and attempts to pacify South Korea, North Korea continues to confront its neighbors. A day after the blast of an intra-Korean liaison office, North Korea’s army leadership announced on Wednesday that it would once again conduct military exercises at the border and move soldiers to the formerly shared industrial and tourist areas.

The general staff of the People’s Army was quoted by the state media as saying that control posts in the military buffer zone between the two countries that had already been withdrawn should be re-established and leaflet campaigns against South Korea started. The country, isolated due to its nuclear weapons program, had previously threatened to take such steps.

Clay has intensified since balloon action

The offer of the government of South Korean President Moon Jae In to send special envoys for a de-escalation mission, the communist leadership declined to say. The influential sister of the North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un, Kim Yo Jong, accused the South Korean side of having made a “tactless and dark proposal”. South Korea must first “control the words and behavior of those fools that continue to provoke us,” Kim said, referring to the propaganda leaflets by South Korean activists and North Korean refugees at the border.

Tensions have increased again since the latest campaign, in which the groups sent around 500,000 balloons packed in balloons criticizing the autocratic leadership in Pyongyang towards the north at the end of May. Pyongyang accuses Seoul of tolerating these actions. The communication channels to South Korea had recently been cut by North Korea. Following the destruction of the liaison office in the border town of Kaesong on Tuesday, South Korea had warned the partitioned neighboring country about further steps that would make the situation worse.

Confidence-building measures are undermined

North Korea’s military leadership has now announced that regimental units are being sent to the Kaesong Industrial Park and the Kumgang Mountain Recreation Area on the east coast. The industrial complex has not been in operation since 2016. Tourist trips from South Koreans to the Diamond Mountains have not been possible since 2008. Seoul had put a joint travel program on hold. The reason for this was fatal shots by a North Korean soldier at a South Korean tourist in a restricted area in the region.

With the implementation of the now threatened military steps, North Korea would undermine bilateral agreements of 2018 on confidence-building measures. At that time, both sides had agreed, among other things, on the cessation of target practice at the border and the destruction of checkpoints within the demilitarized zone, as well as the clearing of landmines at certain points in the buffer zone.

Since the failed summit between North Korea and the United States in February 2019 in Vietnam, not only the nuclear negotiations between these two countries have been stuck. Since then, domestic Korean relations have also stopped making progress.

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cvh / dpa


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