North Korean President Kim Jong Un reportedly blew up a liaison office last month because he was infuriated by "dirty, insulting" images of his wife used in an anti-Pyongyang leaflet campaign from defectors in South Korea. The pamphlets reached the border on May 31, and an office close to the border with South Korea was reportedly blown up on June 16. Meanwhile, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said he hopes President Donald Trump could meet with Kim for a third time before the U.S. elections in November.
Russia's ambassador to North Korea, Alexander Matsegora, told Russia's TASS news agency on Monday that the latest pamphlets caused "serious outrage" in North Korea, reports Agence France-Presse. According to Matsegora, the leaflets were "a special kind of dirty, insulting propaganda, aimed at" Kim's wife, First Lady Ri Sol Ju. The leaflets were Photoshopped "in such a low-grade way" that it was "the last straw" for Kim.
Back on June 16, South Korea's Yonhap News reported that a liaison office, where officials from North and South Korea would meet, in the border town Kaesong was blown up. There were reportedly explosions and smoke seen coming from the building. Just days earlier, Kim's sister Kim Yo-jung warned of a "tragic scene" of the "useless" liaison office being "completely collapsed would be seen."
The day after the office was destroyed, North Korea announced it would send soldiers to the closed inter-Korean cooperation locations within North Korea, ending deals to ease the tension in 2018, reports the Associated Press. The soldiers will be sent to the Diamond Mountain resort and the Kaesong industrial complex, which are located near the north side of the border. The North will restart military exercises, re-open guard posts and expand military readiness at the border. Pyongyang plans to fly its own leaflets over to South Korea as well.
The office was opened in September 2018 for talks between the two countries. However, the relationship has reached another nadir after Trump's 2019 talks with Kim in Vietnam, when Kim offered to dismantle a nuclear facility so some economic sanctions would be lifted. During a video conference with the European Council Tuesday, Moon said there is a "need" for another round of talks between Kim and Trump before the U.S. elections. "The issues of nuclear programs and sanctions will ultimately have to be resolved through North Korea-U.S. talk," Moon said, reports Reuters.
Moon's office discussed another conference between Trump and Kim, an official told Reuters. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun said earlier this month both sides can still "make substantial progress," but noted an in-person summit before November would be difficult due to the coronavirus pandemic. "I think it's probably unlikely between now and the U.S. election, as we see events being canceled around the world," Biegun said Monday.