Daily US Times: North Korea’s army has warned it is ready to enter the demilitarised zone dividing the two Koreas. The warning came in response to defector groups in the South sending propaganda material north.
Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, said over the weekend she’d ordered the army to prepare for the step and now the military now says it is ready to “turn the front line into a fortress and heighten military vigilance”.
Tensions between the North and South Korea have been rising for some time over the cross-border leaflets, usually sent via balloons.
On Tuesday, South Korea’s defence ministry responded to the renewed threats by saying it was working with the United States to closely monitor military moves in the North.
What did the North say?
South and North Korea are technically still in war as no peace deal was signed between the two. They are separated by the so-called demilitarised zone (DMZ) – a buffer along the border that has separated the two countries since the Korean War in the 1950s.
North Korean military said on Tuesday it was “studying an action plan” for the army to move into demilitarised zone.
The General Staff said it was on “high alert” and ready to “rapidly and thoroughly” implement any decisions by the government.
The sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un threatened military action against the South on Saturday and the military warning is seen as a follow up of that threat.
Kim Yo-jong said: “I feel it is high time to surely break with the South Korean authorities.”
She promised to take “action”, said she had instructed the military, and ended her statement with: “Rubbish must be thrown into the dustbin.”
What is the leaflet row?
North Korea cut all communication with the South last week, including a hotline between the two nations’ leaders.
It said it was angered by North Korean defectors based in the South sending leaflets across the border.
South based defector-led groups often send balloons over the border, carrying leaflets and other items, including radio, $1 bills, food and USB sticks with South Korean dramas and news.
North Korean defectors occasionally send balloons carrying leaflets critical of the communist region into the North, sometimes with supplies to entice North Koreans to pick them up.
The people of North Kore can only get news from state-controlled media, and most do not have access to the internet.
Relations between the South and North appeared to improve in 2018, when the leaders of both countries met three times. Such high and state-level meetings had not taken place in over a decade.
But the North largely cut off contact with the South following the collapse of a summit between US President Donald Trump and Kim in Hanoi last year that left nuclear talks at a standstill.