South Korea rebukes North Korea for disparaging Moon's dialogue offer
SEOUL, Kyodo - South Korea issued a harsh rebuke of North Korea on Wednesday for disparaging President Moon Jae In's offer of inter-Korean talks, while warning that the North would "pay the price" if it went ahead with military reinforcements in areas bordering the South.
In a statement issued through state media earlier Wednesday, Kim Yo Jong, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's sister, criticized the South Korean president, saying that in his remarks this week, he had "reeled off a string of shameless and impudent words full of incoherence."
Yoon Do Han, senior secretary for public communication at the presidential office, said it was "very rude" for Kim Yo Jong to denigrate Moon's suggestion that the two Koreas engage in dialogue to overcome problems between them.
Yoon said Kim Yo Jong's criticism could not be tolerated as it would lead to a loss of trust between the leaders of the two Koreas. "We won't tolerate the North's unreasonable words and acts anymore," he said at a press briefing.
Yoon also criticized North Korea for "unilaterally" disclosing the South's unannounced offer of sending special envoys to the North to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula, calling it "an unprecedented and irrational act."
The official Korean Central News Agency reported earlier in the day that the South had expressed hope to send the envoys to Pyongyang, and that Kim Yo Jong, first vice department director of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, "made known the stand that we flatly reject the tactless and sinister proposal."
South Korea's rebuke came a day after North Korea blew up an inter-Korean liaison office located in the border city of Kaesong, in retaliation for anti-Pyongyang leaflets sent across the border by balloon by defector groups and other activists.
Earlier Wednesday, the North Korean military said through state media that troops will be redeployed to areas that had been demilitarized under agreements with the South -- the Mt. Kumgang resort area on the east coast and the Kaesong Industrial Zone in the western border area.
The military also said it will set up guard posts that were withdrawn from the Demilitarized Zone dividing the two Koreas under a 2018 agreement.
The South's military later warned that North Korea should stay clear of any kind of military provocation, such as its planned front-line reinforcements.
"Such a move will reduce to nothing the two decades of efforts by South and North Korea to improve inter-Korean relations and to keep peace on the Korean Peninsula," Jeon Dong Jin, director of operations at the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters.
"If the North actually takes such a move, it will certainly have to pay the price for it," Jeon said.
Vice Unification Minister Suh Ho, South Korea's head of the now-demolished joint liaison office, also criticized North Korea for planning to redeploy troops to the areas that were previously sites for economic cooperation projects with the South.
"The North should be held responsible for this, and we urge it to stop worsening the situation," he added.
The liaison office, set up in September 2018 and staffed with personnel from both North and South Korea until early this year, was a symbol of inter-Korean reconciliation following a series of summit talks between Moon and Kim Jong Un in 2018. (Kyodo)