N. Korea vows to make S. Korea 'dearly pay' for suspending 2018 inter-Korean military accord

By Park Sae-jin Posted : November 23, 2023, 16:48 Updated : November 23, 2023, 16:48
SEOUL -- North Korea has sent out a strong warning towards South Korea, claiming that Seoul "must dearly pay for its "irresponsible and grave political and military provocations." The announcement was made to show Pyongyang's anger towards South Korea partially suspending the September 19th Pyongyang Declaration to scrap the no-fly zone established around the Military Demarcation Line, about 17 hours after North Korea successfully launched a military spy satellite into orbit on its third attempt.

The September 19th Pyongyang Accord, also known as the inter-Korean military accord, was a historic agreement signed between former South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during their summit in Pyongyang.

To ease military tensions, the two Koreas agreed to work toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the agreement included measures such as establishing a no-fly zone and demilitarized zones, and ceasing hostile acts in the Military Demarcation Line (MDL). The Pyongyang Accord also included economic cooperation between the two Koreas as well as the facilitation of family reunions for those who were separated by the Korean War.

MDL is an invisible border line established between North Korea and South Korea after the Korean War in 1953. It is a crucial military buffer zone guarded by soldiers from both sides. The MDL used to be a frequent flight path by the United States' high-altitude spy planes and Pyongyang felt very uncomfortable about the spy planes because they normally fly above the range of radar and ground-to-surface missiles.

President Yoon Suk-yeol, who is currently in London for a state visit to Britain, chaired an emergency National Security Council (NSC) meeting on November 22, after Pyongyang successfully put a military spy satellite into orbit at 10:54 p.m. (1354 GMT) on November 21. The NSC decided to suspend the application of a no-fly zone in the DML and said that the suspension is a minimal action taken to protect South Korea.

Through the Korea Central News Agency (KCNA), Pyongyang's state-operated news agency, North Korea's defense ministry claimed on November 23 that the launch of the military satellite was "a step pertaining to the right to self-defense and the legitimate and just exercise of sovereignty to closely monitor and thoroughly cope with the enemies' various military moves around the Korean peninsula that provoke graver concern as days go by."

Pyongyang strongly criticized South Korea's suspension of the no-fly zone, saying Seoul has "gone extremely hysterical with confrontation." "Those of the "ROK" must pay dearly for their irresponsible and grave political and military provocations that have pushed the present situation to an uncontrollable phase," Pyongyang said, clarifying: "From now on, our army will never be bound by the September 19 North-South Military Agreement."

"We will immediately restore all military measures that have been halted according to the north-south military agreement. We will withdraw the military steps, taken to prevent military tension and conflict in all spheres including ground, sea and air, and deploy more powerful armed forces and new-type military hardware in the region along the Military Demarcation Line," North Korea's defense ministry said.

Pyongyang also strongly warned that South Korea will be "held wholly accountable in case an irretrievable clash breaks out between the north and the south."
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