State media reported on Tuesday that North Korea is officially closing several crucial government agencies responsible for fostering cooperation and reunification with South Korea.
As reported by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the North Korean rubber-stamp parliament declared a decision shortly after the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, expressed that continuing efforts for reconciliation with South Korea was an “error.”
KCNA also reported on Tuesday, January 16, that Kim urged a constitutional amendment to officially designate South Korea as a distinct and “hostile country.”
“We don’t want war but we have no intention of avoiding it,” Kim was quoted as saying by KCNA.
In an official statement, the Supreme People’s Assembly announced the closure of three organizations involved in inter-Korean reconciliation: the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country, the National Economic Cooperation Bureau, and the (Mount Kumgang) International Tourism Administration.
“The two most hostile states, which are at war, are now in acute confrontation on the Korean peninsula,” the assembly said, according to KCNA.
On Tuesday, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol criticized North Korea’s declaration categorizing his country as hostile, characterizing it as indicative of Pyongyang’s “anti-national and ahistorical” disposition.
North Korea announced on Monday that it had conducted a test of a new solid-fuel missile equipped with a hypersonic warhead, following its earlier launch of the Hwasong-18 solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile.
In a recent analysis for the US-based 38 North project, former State Department official Robert Carlin and nuclear scientist Siegfried Hecker expressed their belief that Kim Jong Un was actively gearing up for an actual war.
“We do not know when or how Kim plans to pull the trigger, but the danger is already far beyond the routine warnings in Washington, Seoul and Tokyo about Pyongyang’s ‘provocations’,” they wrote.
“In other words, we do not see the war preparation themes in North Korean media appearing since the beginning of last year as typical bluster from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”
Kim Jong Un designated South Korea as a “primary enemy” and characterized attempts to achieve reunification with the rival as a “mistake that should be avoided.”