After issuing several threats to take military action against its Southern neighbor for sending propaganda leaflets and food through balloons owing to the coronavirus pandemic, North Korea has shown its mettle by blowing up the Kaesong joint liaison office at the border Tuesday, June 16.

South Korean military officials who could capture the explosion and smoke from their live surveillance video, sent out a one-line alert to the reporters. Quoting South Korean Ministry of Inter-Korea Relations, it said, "North Korea blows up Kaesong Liaison Office at 14:49."

This came after multiple threats issued by Kim Yo Jong, sister of the North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, despite Pyongyang facing severe food shortage in the city. The joint liaison office was launched in 2018 to ease the tensions between the two countries as part of the peace agreements with officials from both sides working in that building. Before it was closed due to Coronavirus fears in January, South Korean officials used to travel to the North each week.

Activism to Be Blamed

But as North Korean defector groups organized rallies in South Korea aimed at Kim Jong Un for human rights abuse and sent hot-air balloons carrying anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border, North Korea threatened to retaliate. In a statement, Kim Yo Jong called the defectors "human scum" and "rubbish-like mongrel dogs" for betraying their homeland. Referring to the South Korean government, she added that it was "time to bring their owners to account".

The activist groups also sent USB drives containing Korean dramas and news besides sending $1-bill, mini radio and food through the balloons and bottles. The General Staff of the Korean People's Army (KPA) said that it was contemplating an action plan to re-enter the demilitarized zones and "turn the front line into a fortress".

"Our army will rapidly and thoroughly implement any decisions and orders of the Party and government," the KPA in a statement told the official KCNA news agency. Last week, North Korea also announced that it had severed all communications with South Korea after Seoul failed to take action against the activists.

Pyongyang, North KoreaSoldiers march during a grand military parade celebrating the 70th founding anniversary of the Korean People's Army
North Korea threatened to take military action against South Korea Reuters

Ready to Take Action

However, South Korea's unification ministry had said that it would take legal action against the two North Korean defector groups for "violating an agreement between the leaders of the North and the South and creating tension".

In the light of new threats from the North, Seoul's Ministry of Defense had urged Pyongyang to abide by the peace agreement as they pressed charges against the activist groups. Ministry spokesperson Choi Hyun Soo, however, said that the South Korean military was ready to respond if any hostile acts take place.

"We're taking the situation seriously. Our military is maintaining readiness posture to be able to respond to any situation," she said.