North Korean youth at a coal mine have said they are ready to help “blow up” the inter-Korean liaison office at Kaesong, the country’s ruling party daily reported Monday, amid a mounting domestic propaganda campaign.
The report follows remarks from Kim Yo Jong, a top official and sister of leader Kim Jong Un, warning that the liaison office — opened in the North Korean city of Kaesong in 2018 — would soon be “completely collapsed” in future.
South Korea’s government spent a total of KRW9.7 billion ($8.6 million) on the refurbishment of the joint facility, which was originally intended to facilitate dialogue between the two Koreas. Activity at the office has been on hold since January, when it was closed due to the fears over the spread of COVID-19.
“Our shock brigade should just blow up the South-North joint liaison office or whatever it’s called,” one worker of the Kim Hyok Youth Shock Brigade of the Pukchang Area Youth Coal-mining Complex reportedly told a coworker during a passionate break time discussion, the Rodong Sinmun reported Monday.
“Not only that, we should blow away all the enemies and not even leave ash behind,” another reportedly exclaimed, with the youth said to have smiled at the “heavy sound of blasting” that accompanied their remarks.
Kim Yo Jong’s remarks on Saturday, prompted by a growing inter-Korean spat over Seoul’s failure stop activists sending anti-regime leaflets into the North, warned that it is the “people’s demand” to make South Korea “pay the price” for its crimes.
“You saw the newspaper, it was satisfying reading that the useless South-North joint liaison office will be soon… be seen completely collapsing,” one coal mine worker said in response, Monday’s Rodong reported.
One of his colleagues, the article said, wishes to “put a hole in their chest with this rock drill.”
North Koreans, it continued, were looking forward to the day when a “frightening bolt of punishing lightening will pour on the enemies’ heads.”
South Korea’s unification ministry on Monday sought to downplay the possibility of imminent North Korean action against the liaison office, with spokesperson Yoh Sang-key saying that Pyongyang was likely make a “broadcasted” announcement if it were to withdraw staff from the facility.
“The government is taking the relevant matters seriously, directly monitoring the situation, and is preparing for all possible situations,” he told reporters.
The country’s military is also “closely monitoring” North Korean military movements, a Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) official said at a seperate defense ministry briefing on Monday.
“We are maintaining a firm military readiness condition,” they said.
Saturday’s comments from Kim Yo Jong saw Pyongyang dramatically escalate tensions between the two Koreas, and the first to contain a specific threat of military action against the South.
It was also carried in the Rodong Sinmun the following day, suggesting the comments were as much aimed at a domestic audience as they were at Seoul and Washington.
Monday’s edition of the party daily sought to underline the fact that Kim’s statement’s had been “a direct reflection of the public sentiment,” carrying multiple articles on the widespread support for action against the South.
One story, titled “Diary of Revenge,” carried what was claimed be the thoughts of a local tram worker.
“I can still hear the angry voices of numerous passengers on the tram car today,” she reportedly wrote. “I want to trample those human scum, and the South Korean authorities that protect them, with the iron wheel of the tram car.”
And though the South Korean government has in the wake of North Korean threats moved to stop the leaflets being sent into the North, one article, written under the byline “Ho Yong Min,” condemned Seoul’s belated crackdown.
South Korea, Ho said, wasted two years that could have been used to “create such laws [to stop the leafleting] ten or twenty times.”
Defectors in the South have vowed to send more leaflets into the North, the party daily also reported, likely referring to the Keunsaem and Fighters for a Free North Korea (FFNK) NGOs’ plans to defy government warnings and go ahead with planned launches next week.
“Plans for retaliation” are now underway, the Rodong Sinmun said, with the liaison office set to be hit first, followed by further action by the North’s army.
“It is the… will of our people and the soldiers of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) that those who dare to mess with our Supreme Dignity can never be forgiven.”
Meanwhile, the South Korean government is holding multiple events on Monday — without any participation from the North’s side — to mark the 20th anniversary of the June 15 Joint Inter-Korean Declaration and the first inter-Korean summit in 2000.
Speaking at a celebratory event held at the National Assembly, Moon Chung-in, a senior advisor to President Moon Jae-in, said that the North’s recent round of insults hinted at an “existential crisis” in Pyongyang.
“I feel like the North thinks that South Korea and the U.S. will change only when it takes matters as far as it can,” Moon said, according to the South’s Yonhap News Agency, adding that it is possible the North may turn to military action to make its point.
“As they are having existential crisis, it seems that they will go with a hostile [tone] unless the game changes.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
North Korean youth at a coal mine have said they are ready to help "blow up" the inter-Korean liaison office at Kaesong, the country's ruling party daily reported Monday, amid a mounting domestic propaganda campaign.
The report follows remarks from Kim Yo Jong, a top official and sister of leader Kim Jong Un, warning that the liaison office -- opened in the North Korean city of Kaesong in 2018 -- would soon be "completely collapsed" in future.