A sharp-eyed Google Maps fan who was taking a look around North Korea in hope of finding out what the secretive Pyongyang government was doing found a massive office block that looked like it had been blown up.
The building, which was surrounded by broken glass and other debris, was in the southern city of Kaesŏng – just a short distance from the hotly contested border with South Korea.
Reddit user d2suarez explained: "I was looking at the satellite images of North Korea and noticed that it looks like there was an explosion in this office building," they wrote alongside their post.
"There appears to be glass all over the parking lot."
After a little more detective work, they added:”I just figured out that it was the Korean Inter-Joint Liaison Office.
"It sounds like South Korea built it but North Korea attempted and failed to demolish it."
One North Korea expert told the Daily Star that the building had blown up on the orders of leader Kim Jong-un's younger sister Kim Yo-jong, who holds a senior post in the North Korean government.
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“The action came at a low point in Inter-Korean relations, and destroying the liaison office was meant to show Seoul that severing contacts was permanent and irreversible,” the source said.
They added that Kim Yo-jong is thought to have come under criticism for the shoddy way in which the office was demolished, because it caused damage to surrounding buildings.
The joint liaison office was destroyed in June last year. South Korea had no staff at the facility at the time, having withdrawn them due to the coronavirus crisis.
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South Korean Unification Minster Kim Yeon-chul described the destruction of the building as "an unexpected event".
The North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency stated on June 16: “At 14:50, the liaison office was tragically ruined with a terrific explosion,” adding that the demolition of the building expressed the “mindset” of the North Korean people towards human scum and those, who have sheltered the scum" – meaning defectors who had been provoking North Korea by using hot air balloons to drop anti-Kim propaganda over the border.
In that same week, Kim Yo Jong also hinted at upcoming military action, warning that "the right to taking the next action against the enemy will be entrusted to the general staff of our army."
The Inter-Joint Liaison Office was opened in 2018 as a meeting-point for officials from the two Koreas. While the Korean War was brought to an effective with an armistice on July 27, 1953, no peace treaty has ever been signed.
Technically, a state of war still exists between the two nations.
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