SEOUL – Pyongyang has cut a major military hotline that allows direct communication with Seoul, deeming it no longer necessary following a rise in recent tensions between North and South Korea.
Earlier this month, a Korean Red Cross line running through the “truce village” of Panmunjom was also cut after North Korea declared the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean war to be “void”.
“I, upon authorization, inform the south side that the north-south military communications will be cut off and the members of the north side at the military communications liaison office in the zone under the control of the north and the south in the west coastal area will stop their activities from this moment,” state mouthpiece the KCNA reported the Northern representative for military talks as saying.
“This step will be thoroughly implemented as long as the south side’s anachronistic hostile acts against the DPRK go on,” said the article, quoting a telephone message sent to Seoul this afternoon.
Observers worry that, with tensions running high and two new leaders in Pyongyang and Seoul, there is significant potential for escalation in the event of military confrontation. Both Kim Jong Un and Park Geun-hye are under domestic pressure to show strong and decisive leadership in the face of each other’s threats, and a lack of direct communication between the two sides is worrying for some.
Earlier this morning, the South Korean military issued a jindogae [진돗개] alert (normally reserved for signs of provocation from the North) after a soldier stationed near the border threw a grenade at an “unidentified object”. The alert was later cancelled.