South Korea and North Korea Cut All Communications
John Kim, Feb. 12, 2016, 7:58 a.m.
North Korea on Thursday severed all communication channels with South Korea, including military and Red Cross hotlines. The move came the same day it expelled all South Korean staff and seized assets at the joint Kaesong Industrial Complex and repeats a scenario from April 2013, when the complex was shut for about four months amid heightened military tensions.
The military communication line served as a conduit for the two sides to exchange entry passes for South Korean staff at the industrial park. A Unification Ministry official warned the lack of communication channels could cause isolated provocations to "escalate into a big problem."
North Korea in a statement said South Korea's decision Wednesday to shut down the Kaesong complex "severed the last lifeline of North-South relations." Seoul worries that North Korea may resort to fresh provocations when the UN Security Council decides on tougher sanctions against the North and South Korea and the U.S. hold their annual joint military drills in the next couple of months.
Recent developments suggest that old mlitary hardliners are in the ascendant in internal power struggles in the North, and its patterns of behavior are wearyingly familiar from the last days of former leader Kim Jong-il.