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S. Korea's military hotline phone calls to N. Korea unanswered ahead of threatened severance

All News 09:42 June 09, 2020

SEOUL, June 9 (Yonhap) -- North Korea did not answer South Korea's morning phone calls via their military hotlines Tuesday, the defense ministry said, after the North vowed to sever all communication lines with the South in its first step against what it called an "enemy."

Earlier in the day, North Korea said it will "completely" close the inter-Korean liaison line, as well as hotlines between their militaries and presidential offices, at noon Tuesday in protest against Seoul's failure to stop defectors from sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets into the North.

"North Korea did not answer our calls via the military communication lines this morning," a ministry official said.

The military authorities of the two Koreas had regular telephone calls twice a day at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. via their eastern and western communication lines until Monday, though the North did not pick up the South's morning liaison office call that day. The hotlines, which had been cut off for years, were restored in 2018.

The severance came after Kim Yo-jong, the powerful sister of leader Kim Jong-un, on Friday threatened to scrap an inter-Korean tension-reduction military agreement signed in 2018 and to halt other inter-Korean projects, such as the liaison office and a joint factory park in the border town of Kaesong, if the South fails to prevent activists from flying anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border.

The communist country warned that the cut-off is "the first step of the determination to completely shut down all contact means with South Korea and get rid of unnecessary things," vowing to turn its work toward the South "into the one against an enemy," according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Tuesday.

This undated file photo shows a South Korean officer using a military hotline with North Korea. (Yonhap)

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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