North Korea smashed the liaison office in Kaesong, which was used for talks with the South

North Korean state media reported that the four-story building, located in the North Korean city of Kaesong in the demilitarized zone that divides the two Koreas, was “completely destroyed” by a terrible explosion “at 2:50 p.m.

A shower of black smoke was visible on the South Korean side of the border shortly afterwards.

The liaison office has been closed since Jan. 30 due to a new coronavirus pandemic, the South Korean Unification Ministry said. South Korean staff had not been in the building until then, the ministry said.

But their destruction is very symbolic and could mean a turning point in relations between the two countries that committed to a “new era of peace” less than three years ago.

Pyongyang has made numerous threats against Seoul in recent days. The most recent was a a statement released by North Korean state media on Tuesday it said Pyongyang has launched an “intensive retaliatory campaign” in response to plans by a group of defectors to use balloons to send anti-North Korean leaflets north of the DMZ.

North Korea claimed the leaflets violated an agreement reached between Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in 2018 at their first summit, when both leaders agreed to end “all hostile acts and eliminate their assets, including broadcasting through loudspeakers and distribution of leaflets “along their common border. For the average North Korean, it is illegal to consume information that has not been approved by the powerful propaganda machinery, and this can have dire consequences.

The liaison office was reopened and rebuilt as part of the agreement to help both Koreans communicate, but the future was called into question last week when North Korea announced it was cutting off all communications with South Korea, including a hotline designed to directly connect leaders two countries, in response to leaflets.

“The recent stupid act of audacity has harmed the dignity of our top leadership,” a statement issued Tuesday at KCNA said.

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“The world will clearly see what severe punishment our people will inflict on the South Korean authorities and how to wipe out human waste from the country.”

Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong Un’s sister and perhaps the second most powerful person in the state, has asked the South Korean government to punish the criminals, whom it called “traitors”, “human losers” and a “riff-raff who dared to hurt absolute “the reputation of our supreme leader representing our country and its great dignity,” the North Korean state news agency KCNA said in a statement Saturday.

In that statement, Kim also hinted that the North Korean Liaison Office would be destroyed in some way.

“A long time ago, you will see the tragic sight of a useless North-South Community Office that has completely collapsed,” she said in a statement on Saturday.

It is not clear if anyone was in the building, as Pyongyang said last week that it had completely cut off communications with South Korea.

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