North Korea will deploy troops to the border with the South and drop leaflets criticising Seoul in a heightening of tensions.
Pyongyang rejected South Korea’s offer to send special envoys to the North after it blew up an office meant for inter-Korea peace talks on Tuesday.
Instead, the North said it will redeploy troops to two inter-Korea tourist and economic sites near its heavily fortified border with the South.
The ratcheting up of tensions comes in reaction to North Korean defectors and South Korean activists sending leaflets about leader Kim Jong Un over the border via balloons – an act that has been going on for years.
Military units will be deployed at the sites of the Mount Kumgang resort in the east and the Kaesong industrial complex, where the building it destroyed was, the North’s General Staff said.
Once symbols of co-operation, the sites have been left empty for years as the two Koreas disagreed over the North’s nuclear programme.
The North said it will also get its citizens to fly propaganda balloons towards South Korea.
And it will restore guard posts in the demilitarised zone, which were removed in a 2018 peace agreement, and resume “all kinds of regular military exercises” near the border which were stopped under the agreement.
In a step seen as a strengthening of her power, Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jung, criticised South Korean president Moon Jae-in for failing to apologise for the leaflets and accused him of “pro-US flunkeyism”.
She called Mr Moon’s offer to send a special envoy to the North “unrealistic” and “nonsensical”, saying Seoul must pay for its failure to stop activists sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets into the North.
South Korea’s presidential office called her criticism “rude” and “senseless” and warned it will no longer tolerate such “indiscreet” words and acts.
It also said the North’s public disclosure of its offer of a special envoy was an “unprecedented senseless act”.
The South’s defence ministry warned the North will pay the price if it takes military action, with the unification ministry expressing “strong regret” over the North’s plans to send troops to the joint zones.
Talks between the two Koreas have been almost at a standstill since February last year when a summit between Pyongyang and Washington came to nothing.
In October last year, North Korea demanded the South demolish all “unpleasant-looking” facilities at the now-shuttered Mount Kumgang resort.
The tour programme had been a symbol of reconciliation since its opening in 1998, but it was put on hold after a South Korean tourist was shot dead near the resort in 2008 for allegedly trespassing in an off-limits area.
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