LOOK: North Korea blows up liaison office on border with South - report
Seoul - North Korea has blown up an inter-Korean liaison office in its border city of Kaesong, a spokesperson for South Korea's Unification Ministry said on Tuesday.
The explosion occurred in the afternoon, she said, without giving further details.
Tensions have escalated between the neighbours in recent weeks, following a propaganda airdrop campaign against North Korean leader Kim Jong Un carried out by activists in South Korea.
Kim's younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, had threatened that North Korea would take revenge and should "surely break with" South Korea, after Pyongyang accused Seoul of having done nothing to address the campaign.
Until the detonation, other threats had included the North pulling out of a bilateral 2018 military agreement with the South or simply shutting down the liaison office. It had already stopped answering calls at the office in protest.
"Our army is keeping a close watch on the current situation, in which the North-South relations are turning worse and worse, and getting itself fully ready for providing a sure military guarantee to any external measures to be taken by the party and government," read a statement from the Korean Central News Agency, a mouthpiece for the North Korean government.
North and South Korea have never formally ended the 1950s-era war that saw the creation of the two rivals. The current South Korean government has put significant weight on efforts to improve relations, which were helped along with three meetings between Kim and US President Donald Trump in 2018 and 2019.
There were similar high-profile meetings between the leaders of the two Koreas, one of which saw Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae In symbolically walk across the border together, hand in hand.
However, there has been little in the way of solid improvements in the relationship. North Korea has also indicated it has no intention of acceding to key demands, such as giving up its nuclear ambitions.
South Korean media have begun speculating that North Korea could soon send troops back to Kaesong, where the two countries jointly operated an industrial zone until 2016. Soldiers were stationed there before the Kaesong complex began operations in 2004.
The action that seems to have so enraged Pyongyang involved activitists sending balloons across the border laden with a half million leaflets denouncing the North Korean government. Pyongyang said this is a sign that Seoul is tolerating the actions of North Korean refugees active at the border.
South Korea has accused the leafletters of unnecessarily aggravating tensions on the Peninsula.
China, North Korea's main backer, made a call for stability after the incident.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told a press briefing on Tuesday that "North Korea and South Korea are one people and, as a neighbour, China has always hoped for the preservation of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula."dpa