With South Korea trying to salvage international diplomacy with North
Korea after a failed Hanoi summit, North Korea contacted them Friday and
informed them that their staff is being withdrawn from the inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong, North Korea.
The liaison office only opened back in September, and was meant to allow the two Koreans to communicate directly 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. South Korean officials expressed “regret” over the closure, and say their own staff will be withdrawn as soon as possible.
The big question here is why the withdrawal happened in the first place, and what it means for future diplomacy. North Korea is clearly irked about the way Hanoi went, but South Korea has largely taken their side, and is trying to help them in diplomacy with the US.
Recent US-driven sanctions against North Korea may have made them feel obliged to make a show of a response. This may also be a show of temporarily scaling back their diplomatic efforts after a setback, or may even be related to recent UN griping about the office itself using “unreported” petroleum shipments.
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