North Korea announced that it would shut down the four inter-Korean communication lines including a hotline for the leaders of the two Koreas, starting Tuesday noon. The North said that the work towards the South would now be diverted to anti-Seoul projects describing the South as an enemy. The shutdown comes 781 days after the hotline was set up seven days before the Panmunjom declaration on April 27, 2018, which is the communication channel between the South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae and the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) where North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s office is located. As Pyongyang starts taking action against Seoul only five days after Kim Jong Un’s sister and First Deputy Director, Kim Yo Jong, threatened to terminate the 9/19 Military Agreement, there are mounting concerns that the inter-Korean relations are regressing to pre-2017 when there were heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
"We have reached a conclusion that there is no need to sit face-to-face with the South Korean authorities and there is no issue to discuss with them, as they have only aroused our dismay," the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said at about 6 a.m. on Wednesday. “Our Kim Yo Jong and Kim Yong Chol, vice-chairman of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, reviewed plans for anti-Seoul projects in a meeting to impose punishment that matches the severity of its offense emphasizing that the work towards the South should thoroughly turn into one against an enemy.” It was to make it clear that the recent decision had been driven by Kim Yo Jong who is in charge of inter-Korean projects and Kim Yong Chol who takes a strong stance on South Korea and led negotiations with the South and the United States as the head of the United Front Department.
The four communication lines that will be severed include a hotline between the central committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea and Cheong Wa Dae, a liaison office located in the North Korean border city of Kaesong, the East and West Seas communication lines between the two countries’ militaries, and an inter-Korean trial communication line. According to the South Korean Ministry of Unification, calls made to the liaison office and the military communication lines at 9 a.m. and noon had gone unanswered.
It is expected the shutdown will be followed by a series of actions considering that the North emphasized the move was the first step towards shutting down all means of contact with the South and removing all unnecessary parts.
The Ministry of Unification did not address the issue other than saying communication lines must be kept open as they are the basic means of communication, while Cheong Wa Dae has neither responded nor held the National Security Council (NSC). Cheong Wa Dae appears to be baffled as the recent developments will inevitably undermine South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s efforts to increase inter-Korean cooperation.
email@example.com · firstname.lastname@example.org