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NEWS: Kim threatens to send her army into disarmed zones

Kim Yo Jong © Reuters

By Troy Torres

The two Koreas are locked in a war of threats, as the United States and China mingle in Hawaii for what experts believe to be a high-level summit to help diffuse the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

The Jerusalem Times reported that South Korea President Moon Jae-in offered to send his national security advisor and spy chief to ease tensions Monday, but North Korea state media KCNA said Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, "flatly rejected the tactless and sinister proposal."

The Korea Herald just hours ago reported Mr. Moon's office has strongly condemned Ms. Kim's "rude and senseless" criticism of Mr. Moon "and warned that it won't tolerate the North's unreasonable words and acts anymore." She was referring to remarks Mr. Moon made on inter-Korean relations earlier this week on the 20th anniversary of the Seoul Pyongyang summit, and called his remarks, "shameless sophistry."

Within hours, according to the Nikkei Asian Review, Ms. Kim announced her army's intentions to reenter the border areas of Kaesong and Mount Kumgang, both of which were disarmed under inter-Korean agreements in 2018.

Tensions have escalated for the past several days, with North Korea causing the explosion of a liaison office in a disarmed zone set up by the two Koreas following 2018 talks between the two countries.

At the start of the month, Yonhap News Agency in South Korea reported that North Korean defectors caused half-a-million balloons with anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets to be sent across the border into North Korea. Ms. Kim on June 3 warned South Korea to stop the infiltration before it wrecks an agreement to reduce military tensions.

“If such an act of evil intention committed before our eyes is left to take its own course under the pretext of ‘freedom of individuals’ and ‘freedom of expression’, the South Korean authorities must face the worst phase shortly,” she said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency. “Clearly speaking, the South Korean authorities will be forced to pay a dear price if they let this situation go on while making sort of excuses.”

On June 8, she called South Korea the "enemy," and by Saturday she threatened to demolish the liaison office, which was seen as a symbol of easing tensions between the two Koreas.

"Before long, a tragic scene of the useless north-south joint liaison office completely collapsed will be seen," she said this past weekend.

Ms. Kim made good on her threat yesterday, and now she has threatened that her country's army will reenter two disarmed zones.

Several news outlets now are reporting that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is on his way to Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu for a closed-door meeting reportedly with Yang Jiechi, China's top diplomat.

Accompanying Mr. Pompeo is Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, the top U.S. official dealing with North Korea.

According to the Asian Review:

"Among the new developments they will be discussing is the fact that it was North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's sister, Kim Yo Jong, who orchestrated the destruction in the border city of Kaesong. This marks the first time the nation's de facto No. 2, who had been assisting her brother from behind the scenes, played a public role in matters concerning the South."

A State Department spokesman said in a statement: "The United States fully supports [South Korea's] efforts on inter-Korean relations and urges the DPRK to refrain from further counterproductive actions."

Civil Defense administrator Charles Esteves said that Guam Homeland Security and the Office of Civil Defense have been tracking the issue and communicating with military and federal partners to determine what threat, if any, these tensions bring toward the Marianas.

"Nothing at this time," Mr. Esteves said. "Still continuing to monitor the situation."

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