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North Korea blows up liaison office, Pompeo flies to Hawaii for talks

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Authorities in Seoul, South Korea say that North Korea has blown-up and demolished a liaison office in the North Korean city of Kaesong after the Hermit Kingdom promised violence just one day ago.

The office served as a place for officials from both the North and South to work on inter-Korean affairs between the two countries. The office has been unoccupied since January because of the coronavirus outbreak.

On Saturday, a close aide to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, Kim Yo Jong, warned that she would “collapse” the “useless” liaison office with a “tragic scene.”

Kim Yo Jong — the sister to the North Korean ruler — is increasingly taking a public part in state affairs, which is unusual in North Korea, where the supreme leader is worshipped as a god.

“I gave an instruction to the arms of the department in charge of the affairs with the enemy to decisively carry out the next action,” Kim Yo Jong said in a statement through North Korea’s press office.

Previously, North Korea disabled a hotline between the two countries, threatening to cut off all communications.

North Korea has accused South Korea of allowing defectors from the North to distribute propaganda and food through the border. But underlying the action by the North is the stalled talks between the U.S. and North Korea on a nuclear accord and lifting of U.S. sanctions.  

The two-year anniversary of Trump’s meeting with Kim Jong Un near the liaison office was just a few days ago. North Korea marked the day by threatening to arm rapidly.

“Never again will we provide the U.S. chief executive with another package to be used for (political) achievements without receiving any returns,” said North Korea’s Foreign Minister, Ri Son Gwon. “Nothing is more hypocritical than an empty promise.”

Video from Reuters shows a column of smoke trailing into the sky from where the purported explosion took place at the liaison office.

In response, South Korea convened an emergency meeting of its security council, saying that all inter-Korean agreements between the North and South remain in effect.  

Nevertheless, South Korea says its maintaining a readiness posture that ensures the country is able to fight if necessary.

“We’re taking the situation seriously,” South Korea’s Defense Ministry spokeswoman Choi Hyun-soo told a briefing, according to Reuters. “Our military is maintaining readiness posture to be able to respond to any situation.”

The U.S. State Department said that is was in contact with the U.S. ally, South Korea, and was aware of the situation as it unfolds.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be going to Hawaii today to meet with Chinese diplomat, Yang Jiechi, to see if the U.S. and China can improve relations soured by trade issues, the coronavirus and global rivalry.

China is the prime sponsor of North Korea.

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