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N. Korea withdraws from inter-Korean liaison office at Gaeseong Updated: 2019-03-23 09:00:34 KST

Six months after the inter-Korean contact office was opened, North Korea decides to leave.
On Friday, South Korea's vice unification minister Chun Hae-sung, who doubles as the South Korean director of the liaison office, gave a briefing about the North's sudden withdrawal.
Chun said the North did not give any details about why they decided to pull out.

"The North Korean side notified us that they're withdrawing from the liaison office following an instruction from the top. They said they won't care about whether the South Korean side remains at the office. The South Korean government sees the North's decision as regrettable, and we hope the North can return as soon as possible and operate the liaison office normally."

After giving notice, the North Korean officers left immediately, but they didn't take away any equipment or other items.

With the North Koreans gone, the big question was whether the South Korean side will stay.
The vice unification chief said that the South Korean liaison officers will remain.

"The South Korean side will keep working at the liaison office. We don't see this as the North breaking the summit agreement and won't jump to conclusions, but will take time to analyze the situation."

The North's withdrawal comes as the South and North Korean directors of the joint liaison office have not met each other since the beginning of March, and North Korean vice directors have not been present at the office since last week.
This had already raised concerns.

"The liaison office opened last September based on a pledge made at the April 27th inter-Korean summit. It's the first contact office that enabled the two Koreas to communicate easily 24 hours a day. But the pullout raises questions about the range of projects South Korea hopes to carry out with the North as well as the future of inter-Korean relations. Oh Jung-hee, Arirang News."
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