Clouds of smoke could be seen on both sides of the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea on Tuesday (June 16) after Pyongyang blew up an office created for bringing the two sides together.
The North followed through on threats to destroy the building in its border town Kaesong, after Pyongyang was angered by defectors sending what it called propaganda leaflets from the South.
North Korea's KCNA state news agency said the liaison office, which had been closed since January, was quote "tragically ruined with a terrific explosion."
“This was conducted to follow angry public opinion that human scum (North Korean defectors) and the people (South Korean authorities) who turned a blind eye to them (and their activities) should be punished.”
South Korea's national security council convened an emergency meeting on Tuesday and said it would “sternly respond” if North Korea continues to raise tensions.
Recent days have seen the North quoted as saying it has been studying an "action plan" to reenter zones that had been demilitarized since the 1950s and quote "turn the front line into a fortress."
The South’s Deputy national security advisor Kim You-geun later told a briefing that destroying the office "broke the expectations of all people who hope for the development of inter-Korean relations and lasting peace on the peninsula," before saying the responsibility for all consequences would lie with the North.
Seoul has tried to stop the actions of defector groups in the past week, and vowed to take legal action against them, arguing their actions actually fuel tensions between the two sides.
The defector-led groups had earlier said they will push ahead with their campaign this week.