North Korea Responds to Firm South Korean Stance

North Korea has begun responding to South Korea’s package of countermeasures to the sinking of the Cheonan.

The North Korean Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland reported yesterday via Chosun Central News Agency, “All communication links between North and South are severed” and, “The North‐South Economic Cooperation Council Office in the Kaesong Industrial Complex is being frozen and abolished, and all South Korean workers are to be immediately deported.”

The announcement continued, “We cannot help but respond with firm disciplinary measures in a situation where the South has shifted responsibility for the incident onto us and officially challenged us with this wild provocation.” It also added, “We officially announce the closure of North-South relations, annulment of the inter-Korean nonaggression treaty, and closure of North-South cooperative businesses.”

It also warned that the actions were the first of Pyongyang’s counter-measures.

North Korea then notified the South this morning that it was cutting off communications between Panmunjeom Red Cross Liaison Offices and shipping authorities, according to the Ministry of Unification.

Cheon Hae Seong, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Unification, told reporters in this morning’s press briefing, “Following the measures announced by the North Korean Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland yesterday, North Korea notified us of these officially this morning.”

Thereafter, eight workers from the North-South Economic Cooperation Council Office were expelled from Kaesong. They were ordered out by 12P.M. but were unable to meet the deadline, instead arriving in the South at around 1:45P.M.

In addition, Pyongyang warned this morning that it would block vehicular and personnel access to Kaesong Complex if South Korea re-started its psychological warfare along the MDL, as promised by the Lee administration in its statement.

Reporting on the first two sets of measures, Cheon said, “North Korea has taken dangerous measures that damage North-South relations once again, when what they have to do is to take appropriate steps such as issuing an official apology for the attack on the Cheonan and punishing the officials responsible,” and added, “the government will firmly handle North Korea’s threats and push ahead with the measures announced on the 24th.”

However, despite their rhetoric, the North Korean military authorities granted entrance to the Kaesong Complex for South Korean personnel this morning. Movement into and out of the Kaesong Complex is continuing normally, while fixed line telephones connecting the Kaesong Industrial Complex and parent corporations in South Korea are operating without any problems, too.

This appears to display North Korea’s underlying desire to continue operating the Kaesong Industrial Complex even while warning that “all communications between South and North are severed.”