Reacting to the news on Tuesday that North Korea had blown up an inter-Korean liaison office, China called for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.
Beijing’s Foreign Ministry sent out the message, less than two hours after the shocking action drastically escalated military tensions on the peninsula.
“South and North Korea are one people. As their neighbor, we hope for continued peace and stability on the peninsula,” said a spokesperson. China, which shares a border with the North, is the top ally and backer of the Kim Jong-un regime.
In Tokyo, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the Japanese government will closely cooperate with South Korea and the US to monitor the situation. He refrained from commenting further.
Major international media outlets carried the news immediately after it broke in Seoul.
The Associated Press called it “a dramatic move that sharply raises tensions on the Korean Peninsula,” while Reuters said the now-destroyed office had “acted as de facto embassy for both Koreas.”
Japanese media also offered commentary on the latest development.
“Pyongyang is clearly pressing Washington to get the upper hand in the nuclear talks,” the Yomiuri Shimbun reported. “The hard-line approach aims to rally people as well, when they were suffering an economy hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.”
Kyodo News shared similar sentiments, pointing to the Pyongyang’s uncompromising drive for sanctions relief from Washington.
“This is a serious blow to the Moon government. The liaison office is the culmination of the rapprochement efforts,” the Asahi Shimbun said.
The North’s state media, reporting on the demolition, said the move was in line with “the mindset of the enraged people to surely force human scum and those who have sheltered the scum to pay dearly for their crimes,” referring to North Korean defectors in the South sending anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets.
The Kaesong liaison office, inside an inter-Korean joint factory complex, was built in 2018 following the summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and the North’s Kim Jong-un.
The industrial park was built in 2000, under an agreement reached at the first-ever inter-Korean summit between then-South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. Since then it had been a symbol of inter-Korean partnership.
The complex was closed in 2016 in response to the North’s nuclear and missile provocations.
By Choi Si-young (email@example.com