08:53 GMT09 August 2020
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    North Korean military leaders announced on Tuesday they were reviewing plans to reoccupy parts of the inter-Korean border disarmed by a previous agreement with Seoul. The move comes amid continued deterioration of relations between the two Koreas fueled by the activities of North Korean defectors in the South.

    "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," the General Staff of the Korean People's Army said in a statement carried by Pyongyang's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), according to the South Korean Yonhap News Agency.

    The statement noted KPA leaders were studying "an action plan for taking measures to make the army advance again into the zones that had been demilitarized under the north-south agreement, turn the front line into a fortress and further heighten the military vigilance against the south. We will map out the military action plans for rapidly carrying out the said opinions to receive approval from the Party Central Military Commission."

    A Monday article in Rodong Sinmun, the official paper of the ruling Workers Party of Korea (WPK), blasted what it called the "hidden hostile policy of the South Korean authorities," by whose hand "north-south relations have gone totally bankrupt and the worst tension has been created on the Korean peninsula."

    "We have already made a conclusion that there is no need for us to sit face to face with the south Korean authorities and discuss things with them any longer. What is left for us is to make them pay dearly for their heinous crimes," Rodong Sinmun warned.

    "We have decided to take a series of retaliatory actions to punish the betrayers and human scum," the paper said. "As was declared, the north-south joint liaison office will come into destruction and the right to taking the next action against the enemy will be entrusted to our army."

    Last week, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) announced it was severing ties with Seoul amid the South Korean government's unwillingness to stop the sending of propaganda leaflets northward across the demilitarized zone by North Korean defectors based in South Korea.

    The DMZ was created in 1953 after a ceasefire was signed between the DPRK and China on one side, and South Korea and the United States on the other, following three years of brutal war. The inter-Korean border is heavily fortified, containing huge minefields, fences, watch stations, and guards on patrol. A 2018 agreement that included an end-of-war declaration by officials from North and South Korea saw 22 of these border stations disarmed.

    However, since then, relations have steadily slid downhill, despite attempts to revive talks on peace and denuclearization of the peninsula.

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    Tags:
    DMZ, occupy, South Korea, Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK)
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