North Korea Preparing to Send Troops to Demilitarized Sections of Border With South Korea

North Korea is preparing to move its armed forces to demilitarized areas of the border between North and South Korea, according to a Monday statement from the North Korean People's Army's General Staff.

Tensions between the two countries have been aggravated recently by the actions of defectors who have been floating anti-Communist propaganda, Bibles and U.S. currency over the border from South Korea into North Korea by using balloons. Officials from both sides have decried the actions, with South Korean officials threatening legal actions against the defectors behind the campaign. Communication between the two countries was halted by Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of North Korea's Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un. Kim Yo Jong said Saturday that the time had come to completely break off relations with South Korea.

"By exercising my power authorized by the supreme leader, our party and the state, I gave an instruction to the arms of the department in charge of the affairs with enemy to decisively carry out the next action," Kim Yo Jong said in a Saturday statement. "I feel it is high time to surely break with the South Korean authorities. We will soon take a next action."

On Monday, North Korean military officials announced they would move troops into demilitarized areas at the border.

"Our army is keenly watching each other's deterioration in relations between North and South Korea," the North Korean People's Army's General Staff said in a Monday statement. "We will take action from the Party's Central Committee, the Unification Front, and the counterparts to advance the armed forces into the demilitarized zones following the North-South agreement, fortifying the front line and further strengthening the military border with South Korea."

north korea, south korea
Korean People's Army soldiers walk past a propaganda painting displayed at the joint security area and Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea. Ed Jones/AFP/Getty

North Korea's announcement coincided with the 20th anniversary of a summit between the two countries, which resulted in a joint declaration that the governments were working towards reunification.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said during a Monday meeting with aides that the inter-Korean relations should not be stopped. "We can't let the promise of peace on the Korean Peninsula, which I and Chairman Kim Jong Un made in front of 80 million Koreans, revert," Moon said.

Newsweek reached out to the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the USA for comment. This story will be updated with any response.

Kim Yo Jong referred to the defectors to South Korea as "rubbish-like mongrel dogs" in a statement Friday. "I detest those who feign ignorance or encourage more than those who move to do others harm," she said.

Wednesday, the South Korean Unification Ministry said it would step in to prevent the airdrop campaign. In a statement, the Ministry said the leaflets present a "risk to the lives and property of our nationals living in the border area."

Park Sang-hak, leader of defector activist group Fighters for a Free North Korea, alleged during a June press conference that the South Korean Unification Ministry was "traitorous" by giving in to the South Korean government's demands. Park also said they would continue to send the balloons over the border.