North Korean soldiers blew up an inter-Korean liaison office in the DPRK's border town of Kaesong as retribution against North Korean defectors running a leaflet campaign at the border.
The South Korean ministry in charge of inter-Korean affairs said in a brief statement that the DPRK blew up the Kaesong joint liaison office at 2:49 p.m. local time (0549 GMT). The liaison office was opened in September 2018 for round-the-clock communications between the two Koreas in accordance with the Panmunjom Declaration of April 27, 2018.
The joint liaison office has been temporarily closed since January over the COVID-19 outbreak and no one was present in the building.
According to military sources cited by multiple local media, an explosion was heard and smoke was seen rising from the Kaesong Industrial Complex, an inter-Korean factory park in Kaesong housing the liaison office.
Pyongyang closed its joint liaison office and cut off all communication lines with South Korea last week in protest of anti-DPRK propaganda leaflets sent by defectors and activists across the border.
The explosion came after Kim Yo Jong, first vice department director of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) and younger sister of the DPRK leader, said in a statement Saturday, "If I drop a hint of our next plan the South Korean authorities are anxious about, the right to taking the next action against the enemy will be entrusted to the General Staff of our army," she said, indicating strong military action.
South Korean President Moon on Monday offered to have dialogue with the DPRK to find a breakthrough, saying the time has come that the two Koreas "would no longer sit and wait for improved conditions."
DPRK leader Kim has demanded that sanctions against his country be lifted as pre-condition to denuclearization talks. Talks on the subject between DPRK leader Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump ended with no agreement in February 2019 at the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi.