North Korea said yesterday that it had cut off a key military hotline with South Korea that allows cross-border travel to a jointly run industrial complex in the North, a move that ratchets up already high tension and possibly jeopardizes the last major symbol of inter-Korean cooperation.
North Korea recently cut a Red Cross hotline with South Korea and another with the US-led UN command at the border between the Koreas, but there is still a hotline linking aviation authorities in the North and South.
North Korea’s chief delegate to inter-Korean military made the announcement yesterday in a statement sent to his South Korean counterpart. The hotline is important because the Koreas use it to communicate as hundreds of workers travel back and forth to the Kaesong industrial complex.
Meanwhile, a Chinese border province has announced plans to beef up transport and trade links with North Korea, including new railways to the frontier, soon after pledges by Beijing to implement tough new UN sanctions.
The blueprint by the Jilin provincial government, in northeast China, calls for “hastening the construction of express railways from key cities such as Chang-chun to major border cities” and improving rail links from Tumen on the frontier to Rason and Chongjin in North Korea.