Tensions on knife-edge as North Korea sends troops to border and South Korea mobilises air defence weapons

TENSIONS have escalated between North Korea and South Korea as the communist North sends troops to their demilitarised border areas while the South mobilises air defence weapons. 

On Wednesday North Korea said it would redeploy troops after rejecting the South’s offer to send special envoys to ease tensions.

North Korea said it would send troops to inter-Korean cooperation sites on its territory, rebuild guard posts and restart military drills at the northern side of the border with South Korea. 

The news, which was reported by state news agency KCNA, would nullify the 2018 deals that ban both Koreas from taking any hostile acts against each other.

A spokesman for the General Staff of the (North) Korean People’s Army (KPA) said the country would dispatch troops to Mount Kumgang and Kaesong near the border.

Police posts that were withdrawn from the Demilitarized Zone will be reinstalled, while artillery units near the western sea border would be reinforced with the alert heightened to the level of “top-class combat duty”, the spokesman said. 

This comes days after Pyongyang destroyed the joint liaison office that had been set up in the border town of Kaesong as part of their peace agreements. 

On Monday South Korea’s President, Moon Jae-in offered to send his national security adviser, Chung Eui-yong, and spy chief Suh Hoon to Pyongyang as special envoys. 

However, Kim Jong-un’s sister and government official Kim Yo Jong “flatly rejected the tactless and sinister proposal” according to KCNA.

She also accused Moon of using envoy’s to tide over crises and suggesting “preposterous proposals.”

KCNA said: “The solution to the present crisis between the North and the South caused by the incompetence and irresponsibility of the South Korean authorities is impossible and it can be terminated only when the proper price is paid."

In response, President Moon’s office said that the South would no longer accept “unreasonable behaviour” by the North.

South Korea’s defence ministry warned of the dangers of military actions saying.

Jeon Dong-jin, the director of operations at the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said: “These moves thwart two decades of efforts by South and North Korea to improve inter-Korean relations and to keep peace on the Korean peninsular.

"If the North actually takes such a move, it will certainly pay the price for it."

The KPA said on Tuesday it had been studying an "action plan" to re-enter zones that had been demilitarised under a 2018 inter-Korean military pact and "turn the front line into a fortress".

Seoul's defence ministry has urged North Korea to abide by the agreement, under which both sides agreed to cease "all hostile acts" and dismantled a number of structures along the DMZ. 

Despite rising tensions, South Korea said on Thursday that it hadn’t detected any suspicious activities by North Korea. 

Kim Jun-rak, a spokesman at Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that there have been no signs indicating North Korea had started to carry out its threats. 

He said South Korea will maintain a firm military readiness to deal with any situations.

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