North Korea ‘severs all ties’ with Seoul

Page last updated at 16:22 GMT, Tuesday, 25 May 2010 17:22 UK

North Korean soldiers patrol the banks of the Yalu River, opposite the Chinese border city of Dandong, 25 May 2010

Pyongyang said all ties, including communications, would be cut

North Korea is to cut all relations with South Korea, Pyongyang’s official news agency reports.

KCNA said the North was also expelling all South Korean workers from a jointly-run factory north of the border.

The move comes after an international report blamed North Korea for sinking a South Korean warship.

Pyongyang denies it torpedoed the Cheonan near the inter-Korean maritime border on 26 March, killing 46 sailors.

South Korea says it plans to refer North Korea to the UN Security Council, and is seeking a unified international response to the incident.

‘Puppet army gangs’

Tuesday’s KCNA reports announcing the severing of all ties – including communications – said the North was also banning South Korean ships and planes from its territorial waters and airspace.

ANALYSIS

Continue reading the main storyJonathan Marcus

Jonathan Marcus
BBC Diplomatic Correspondent

Within a matter of days relations between the two Koreas have returned to the freezer.

The diplomatic goal now will be to ensure that a renewed cold war on the Korean peninsula does not generate into a hot conflict.

The United States is firmly backing South Korea but US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – who has been in the Chinese capital Beijing as events unfolded – has failed to extract any public criticism of North Korea from the Chinese authorities.

Her hope will be that in private Beijing will tell Pyongyang in no uncertain terms that it should do nothing to inflame this crisis further.

"The Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea… formally declares that from now on it will put into force the resolute measures to totally freeze the inter-Korean relations, totally abrogate the agreement on non-aggression between the North and the South and completely halt the inter-Korean cooperation," KCNA reported.

Pyongyang has also accused South Korea of trespassing in its waters.

In a warning to South Korea’s navy, a newsreader on North Korean state television (KRT) said: "South Korean puppet army gangs have been recently trespassing our territorial waters without restraint.

"They have conducted provocative acts which severely irritate us, by making dozens of warships intrude upon our waters from 14 to 24 May."

The newsreader said that if this "deliberate provocation" continued, the North would "put into force practical military measures to defend its waters".

North and South Korea are technically still at war after the Korean conflict ended without an armistice in 1953.

While there were hopes of a reconciliation a few years ago, relations have been deteriorating since then and now appear to be at their lowest point in a decade, correspondents say.

Provocation

Amid the rising tensions, Seoul announced on Sunday it was ending trade relations with the North in response to the sinking of the Cheonan.

South Korea has also said it will drop propaganda leaflets into the North to tell people about the sinking, as well as setting up giant electronic billboards to flash messages.

ATTACKS BLAMED ON NORTH

Continue reading the main storyA giant offshore crane salvages the bow section of the South Korean naval ship Cheonan off Baengnyeong Island, South Korea, file picture from 24 April 2010

  • Jan 1967 – South Korean warship attacked near border, 39 sailors killed
  • Jan 1968 – presidential palace in Seoul attacked, 71 killed
  • Oct 1983 – bomb blast at Rangoon memorial during visit by South Korean president, 21 killed
  • Nov 1987 – South Korean airliner bombed, 115 killed
  • Mar 2010 – Cheonan warship attacked, 46 sailors killed

How the ship was sunkS Koreans divided over the NorthTimeline: North Korean attacksQ&A: Cheonan sinking

It has resumed propaganda broadcasts to the North, playing radio programmes that will soon be broadcast via border loudspeakers.

The US, which has thousands of troops based in South Korea, has backed Seoul, condemning the incident and confirming late on Monday that it will hold joint anti-submarine naval exercises with South Korean forces.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said the US and China must work together to "fashion an effective response" to the sinking of the Cheonan.

Speaking in Beijing, Mrs Clinton said maintaining peace on the Korean peninsula was "a shared responsibility" between the countries.

China has called for all sides to show restraint, adding its voice to calls for international co-operation over the incident.

Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai said Beijing was "ready to work together with the US and other parties and continue to stay in close touch on the situation on the Korean peninsula".

On Tuesday Wu Dawei, China’s special representative for Korean affairs, arrived in Seoul for talks with Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan.

Analysts say China’s attitude is key, because it holds a veto in the Security Council and has in the past been reluctant to impose tough measures on Pyongyang.

Mrs Clinton is also due in Seoul for talks on Wednesday.

Timeline: North Korean attacks

Page last updated at 12:35 GMT, Thursday, 20 May 2010 13:35 UK

A crane lifts the Cheonan from the seabed (12 April 2010)Seoul said there was no doubt North Korea sank the Cheonan

South Korea says it has "overwhelming " evidence that a North Korean torpedo sank the Cheonan warship in March 2010, killing 46 sailors. BBC News looks at some of the other major attacks and incursions which have been blamed on North Korea.

JANUARY 1967

North Korean artillery targets a South Korean vessel, the Dangpo, patrolling in the Yellow Sea with 70 sailors on board. The ship sinks, killing 39 of the crew.

JANUARY 1968

A team of 31 North Korean commandos crosses into South Korea and breaks into the presidential palace, the Blue House, in an attempt to assassinate President Park Chung-hee. The attempt is crushed by South Korean security forces, Mr Park survives but seven South Koreans and most of the commandos are killed.

JANUARY 1968

The research ship the USS Pueblo is captured by North Korea while on a surveillance mission. One crew member dies during the capture and the remaining 82 are taken to prison camps in the North.

The prisoners are released 11 months later after the US gave an apology and assurances the vessel had not been spying – both were later retracted. The Pueblo remains in North Korea as a museum – the only US warship in captivity.

DECEMBER 1969

A South Korean airliner is hijacked and forced to fly to North Korea. Dozens of passengers are taken hostage. In January, 39 of the hostages were released but the remaining 12 are not known to have been freed.

AUGUST 1974

President Park’s wife dies during a second attempt on his life – she is hit by stray bullets after a suspected North Korean agent opens fire at a public function.

OCTOBER 1983

North Korea bombs a hotel in Rangoon, Burma, during a visit by President Chun Doo-hwan. He survives but 21 people, including some government ministers, are killed.

NOVEMBER 1987

A bomb, allegedly planted by North Korean agents, explodes on board a South Korean airliner travelling to Seoul from Baghdad. All 115 passengers and crew are killed.

SEPTEMBER 1996

A North Korean submarine runs aground near Gangneung, off the east coast of South Korea, while allegedly conducting a spy mission. The crew of 26 escape to the shore, sparking a manhunt.

Eleven of the crew are found dead, apparently shot by their compatriots, but the rest go on the run for nearly two months. One alleged spy escapes, one is captured by South Korean security forces and the rest are killed. Several South Koreans also die in the operation.

MARCH 2010

A 1,200-tonne Corvette, the Cheonan, mysteriously goes down near the disputed maritime border with North Korea – the Northern Limit Line. Many of the crew members escape but 46 are killed. After an extensive investigation, Seoul rules that a torpedo explosion directly beneath the vessel sank it and that the only "plausible explanation" is that North Korea was to blame.

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