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N. Korea's official paper ratchets up criticism over anti-Pyongyang leaflets

All News 18:10 June 06, 2020

SEOUL, June 6 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's official newspaper on Saturday lashed out at South Korea over anti-Pyongyang leaflets sent by activists into the communist state, blaming Seoul for freezing inter-Korean relations with its irresponsible attitude and belated action.

The Rodong Sinmun, the organ of the North's ruling party, made the criticism, hours after Pyongyang vowed to close an inter-Korean liaison office in its border town of Kaesong over the leaflet-sending campaigns.

"The current situation clearly shows who is the culprit for freezing a good atmosphere again in relations between the North and the South and pushing things into a state of tension," the paper said.

"If (South Korea) has a willingness to cherish and thoroughly carry out inter-Korean agreements, it will have to completely make sure that ugly things should not take place again. It has to take drastic measures immediately," the paper added.

Late on Friday, the United Front Department (UFD) handling inter-Korean affairs issued a statement, saying that it will abolish the liaison office in the first in a series of measures over anti-Pyongyang leaflets sent from South Korea.

It also said that leader Kim Jong-un's sister, Kim Yo-jong, ordered officials to look into implementing a series of measures she threatened to take a day earlier unless Seoul stops North Korean defectors from sending such leaflets.

Along with the closing of the liaison office, she warned of scrapping a tension-reduction military deal signed in 2018 and dismantling a now-shuttered industrial park in Kaesong.

North Korea vowed to go ahead with those plans, despite South Korea's promise to take legislative measures to ban the sending of propaganda leaflets.

The paper criticized Seoul for trying to avoid taking responsibility after doing nothing about the leaflet-sending campaigns for years.

"What have the South Korean authorities done so far," the paper said. "They should have taken action to prevent such reckless acts by human scum, knowing what consequences slandering at the most inappropriate time like this would bring about."

"Nothing can be expected in the relations between the North and the South if they just speak hollow words without any action," it added.

North Korean defectors and anti-Pyongyang activists have for years sent a large number of leaflets via giant balloons. North Korea has bristled at such activity, saying it is aimed at tarnishing its leader.

South Korea's government has advised against sending such leaflets, citing concerns about the safety of residents in the border regions, but they have often ignored such an appeal, citing their right to freedom of expression.

The liaison office in Kaesong that the North vowed to shut down was launched in September 2018 as part of efforts to facilitate cross-border contact and cooperation as agreed by the leaders of the two Koreas in their summits held in the same year.

Earlier this year, the two Koreas temporarily closed the office over coronavirus concerns, but their liaison officers have communicated through telephone and fax lines established between Seoul and Pyongyang.


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