North Korea rejected South Korea's offer to send special envoys to ease escalating tensions on Wednesday and instead vowed to redeploy troops to the border.
This comes a day after North Korea blew up a joint liason office in its border town Kaesong. South Korea Army chief Jeon Dong Jin on Wednesday urged the North to halt any action that would further worsen the situation:
"(Such a move) immediately thwarts the efforts and achievements made by the two Koreas to maintain peace on the Korean peninsula, and the North will surely pay if these measures are put into action."
The attack marks a major setback to South Korea's efforts to foster reconciliation with the North.
The demolished office was set up as part of a 2018 peace agreement by the two countries' leaders.
A South Korean spokesman said Wednesday the trust built by the two leaders had been damaged by comments made by Kim Jong Un's sister Kim Yo Jong on state media KCNA.
She said South Korean leader Moon Jae In had failed to implement any part of the 2018 pact between the two countries and quote "put his neck into the noose of pro-U.S. flunkeyism."
But on the streets in South Korea's capital, business continued as normal, and locals seemed unfazed by the attack:
"It's just their way of maintaining power. I don't think they will actually go the distance. I might as well just do my job, because I don't think a war will break out."
Others were more cautious:
"If we shut the door just because North Korea is being extreme, they can react in even more extreme ways, and I think the damage will come to us."
The attack followed through on threats made earlier from the North that they would retaliate if defector groups in the South continued to send food, propaganda leaflets, and messages critical of leader Kim Jong Un.
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.