N. Korea Cuts off Hotline with S. Korea
In response to Seoul and Washington's annual joint military exercise, North Korea cut off its cross-border hotline with the South on Monday.
The two sides routinely exchange calls at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. every day over the hotline at the truce village of Panmunjom, but Seoul's Unification Ministry says the North didn't pick up Monday morning.
Pyongyang urged Seoul last week to cancel plans for the Key Resolve military exercise, threatening that it would suspend all non-aggression measures previously agreed upon by the two Koreas.
And as promised, with the launch of the drills, the North's Rodong Sinmun newspaper declared that the Korean War Armistice Agreement had been scrapped.
The 10-day military exercise between Seoul and Washington is seen as integral to South Korea's military forces, as they prepare to regain wartime operational control from the U.S. at the end of 2015.
Around 10-thousand South Korean soldiers and 35-hundred U.S. troops are taking part in this year's drills, which aim to ensure the prompt deployment of U.S. reinforcements to the Korean Peninsula in the event of a war.
With Pyongyang also expected to carry out a large-scale military exercise this week, Seoul's defense ministry says it is ready for any surprise provocation by the North.
"North Korea continues to make provocative threats, but our military is in full preparations and ready to immediately strike back if the North provokes."
Although the North has repeated threatened to turn Seoul and Washington into a "sea of fire," only a few expect war.
Rather, experts point to the possibility of another event similar to the North's shelling of South Korea's Yeonpyeong Island in 2010.
Hwang Sung-hee, Arirang News.
Reporter : firstname.lastname@example.org