South Korea on Friday said North Korea has decided to withdraw its employees from the inter-Korean liaison office, which was set up last year amid a warming of ties between the two countries, BBC reported. The South Korean Unification Ministry said its northern counterpart had informed it of the decision on Friday morning and said the employees will be leaving later in the day.
The two governments had opened a joint liaison office in the North Korean city of Gaeseong to improve communication in September 2018. The office was considered the start of a de facto embassy.
Seoul expressed its regret about the development and urged Pyongyang to redeploy its staff to their posts at the office. South Korea said that North Korea had stated that it “will not mind” if Seoul’s staff continues to work at the office, AP reported. Pyongyang said it will inform Seoul about “practical matters later” but did not specify if its decision was temporary or permanent.
The two nations have not met since the meeting between United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ended abruptly in March following a disagreement over sanctions imposed on Pyongyang.
Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in had met during a historic peace summit in South Korea’s border village of Panmunjom on April 27, 2018, when they agreed to end the Korean War and make efforts to denuclearise the peninsula. They held another surprise meeting a month later at the same location in an effort to save Pyongyang’s planned summit with the United States in June 2018.