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Neighbors react to North Korea’s demolition with shock

An inter-Korean liaison office is destroyed by North Korea on June 16, 2020. (Yonhap)
An inter-Korean liaison office is destroyed by North Korea on June 16, 2020. (Yonhap)
In response to North Korea’s demolition of an inter-Korean liaison office, China called for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. Beijing’s Foreign Ministry sent out the message, less than two hours after the unprecedented aggression escalated military tensions on the peninsula.

“South and North Korea are one people. As their neighbor, we hope for continued peace and stability on the peninsula,” a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said. China, which shares a border with the North, is its top ally backing the isolated country.

Meanwhile, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said his government will closely cooperate with South Korea and the US to monitor the situation, without elaborating on details.

International media outlets reported the news immediately after it broke in Seoul. The Associated Press called it “a dramatic move that sharply raises tensions on the Korean Peninsula,” while Reuters said the now-destroyed office had “acted as de facto embassy for both Koreas.”

Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun said, “Pyongyang is clearly pressing Washington to get the upper hand in the nuclear talks.” The newspaper added, “The hard-line approach aims to rally people as well, when they were suffering an economy hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.”

“This is a serious blow to the Moon government. The liaison office is the culmination of the rapprochement efforts,” the Asahi Shimbun said. Kyodo News shared similar sentiments, pointing to the Pyongyang’s uncompromising pursuit of sanctions relief from Washington, despite no progress made so far.

The North’s state media said the demolition was in line with “the mindset of the enraged people to surely force human scum and those who have sheltered the scum to pay dearly for their crimes,” referring to North Korean defectors in the South sending anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets.

The Kaesong liaison office, inside an inter-Korean joint factory complex, was built in 2018 following the summit between President Moon Jae-in and the leader Kim Jong-un.

The industrial park was built in 2000, after an agreement was reached at the first-ever inter-Korean summit between then-President Kim Dae-jung and the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. A symbol of inter-Korean partnership, the complex was shut down in 2016 when North Korea carried out a nuclear test.

By Choi Si-young (siyoungchoi@heraldcorp.com)
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