North Korea says it will cut off all communication channels with South Korea as it escalates pressure on Seoul for failing to stop activists floating anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border.
The North’s Korean Central News Agency said it would be “the first step of the determination to completely shut down all contact means with south Korea and get rid of unnecessary things”.
KNCA said all cross-border communication lines would be cut off on Tuesday at noon local time.
“The South Korean authorities connived at the hostile acts against (North Korea) by the riff-raff, while trying to dodge heavy responsibility with nasty excuses,” KCNA said.
In recent days, North Korea has increasingly expressed its anger over the leafleting by threatening to permanently shut down a liaison office with South Korea and a jointly run factory park, and to nullify a 2018 inter-Korean tension-reduction agreement.
The North Korean threats come amid a prolonged deadlock in its broader nuclear diplomacy with the US, which has subsequently led to the straining of inter-Korean ties.
South Korea made no immediate response to the North Korean announcement. It has recently said it will push for new legal steps to ban activists from launching leaflets in an attempt to save faltering ties with North Korea, but the North claims that response lacks sincerity.
The leafleting has been a long-running source of tensions between the two Koreas.
In recent years, North Korean defectors and conservative activists have floated huge balloons carrying leaflets criticising North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over his nuclear ambitions and abysmal human rights record.
The North, which bristles at any outside attempt to undermine the Kim leadership, has often made a furious response to the South Korean government.
South Korea has typically let activists launch such balloons, citing their rights to exercise freedom of speech, but it sometimes sent police officers to stop them from floating leaflets in times of tensions with North Korea.