Kim Jong-un has reportedly called for North Korea’s constitution to be changed to declare South Korea its “primary foe and invariable principal enemy” in the latest sign of fast deteriorating ties between the two neighbouring countries.
Addressing the Supreme People’s Assembly – the country’s rubber-stamp parliament – the leader said North Korea will no longer pursue reconciliation with South Korea and called to dismantle all the organisations meant for peaceful reunification.
He also called for the dismantling of a massive reunification monument – the Arch of Reunification – in capital Pyongyang.
The relations between the two Koreas have torpedoed to the worst in recent history following Mr Kim’s rare visit to Russia and the subsequent launch of North Korea’s spy satellite into orbit last year in November.
The historic step to discard the decades-long pursuit of a peaceful unification, which was based on a sense of national homogeneity shared by both Koreas, comes at at time when Pyongyang is strengthening its partnerships with Moscow and Beijing.
The closer ties with Russia and China are seen as attempts to break out of diplomatic isolation and create a united front against the West.
North Korean state media reports said Mr Kim is abolishing three agencies tasked with managing relations with South Korea: the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification, the National Economic Cooperation Bureau and the Mount Kumgang International Tourism Administration.
“The two most hostile states, which are at war, are now in acute confrontation on the Korean peninsula,” the assembly said after adopting the decision, according to KCNA. “The reunification of Korea can never be achieved with the Republic of Korea”, it said, referring to the official name of the South.
Mr Kim suggested the complete removal of the nine-story arch, called the Monument to the Three Charters for National Reunification, calling it an “eye-sore”.
The “Arch of Reunification” was completed in 2001 after two years of work to commemorate Mr Kim’s father Kim Jong-il and grandfather Kim Il-sung’s Korean unification proposals.
“We do not want war, but we also have no intention of avoiding it,” Mr Kim announced.
He said that even if South Korea "violates even 0.001 mm of our territorial land, air and waters, it will be considered a war provocation", the KCNA news agency reported.
“The war will terribly destroy the entity called the Republic of Korea and put an end to its existence,” he said and will “inflict an unimaginably crushing defeat upon the US”.
The latest developments are expected to put pressure on South Korean leader Yoon Suk yeol who stormed into power in 2022, promising a hardline approach towards North’s provocation.
Mr Yoon accused Pyongyang of being “anti-national” for calling South Korea a hostile country and said they will not be threatened.
“If North Korea provokes, we will punish them multiple times as hard,” Mr Yoon said at a Cabinet meeting in Seoul.
The latest escalations in the Korean Peninsula have left the neighbours and western allies alarmed.
In a recent publication on the US-based 38 North project last week, former State Department official Robert Carlin and nuclear scientist Siegfried Hecker said that the conditions on the Korean Peninsula are currently “more dangerous than it has been at any time since early June 1950”, just before the onset of the Korean War.
“That may sound overly dramatic, but we believe that, like his grandfather [Kim Il-sung] in 1950, Kim Jong-un has made a strategic decision to go to war.
“We do not know when or how Kim plans to pull the trigger, but the danger is already far beyond the routine warnings in Washington, Seoul and Tokyo about Pyongyang’s ‘provocations.’”