Politics

North Korea demolishes monument symbolizing potential unification with South: report

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A massive arched monument that stood in North Korea for more than 20 years and symbolized the goal of reconciliation with South Korea has been demolished weeks after Kim Jong Un ordered it to be destroyed, according to a report by NK News, an online outlet that monitors North Korea.

The concrete straddled monument, known as the ‘Arch of Reunification,’ opened in 2001 to commemorate Korean reunification proposals put forward by former leader and dictator Kim Il Sung. At 100 feet high and 300 feet wide, it towered over the multi-laned Reunification Highway leading from Pyongyang to the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and consisted of two Korean women in traditional dress holding an emblem of the entire Korean Peninsula, symbolizing the North and the South.

But satellite imagery of Pyongyang on Tuesday showed that the monument had been destroyed. It is unclear when or how it was brought down, and it was last seen standing in an image taken on Jan. 19, NK News reports.

Reuters and Fox News could not independently confirm that the monument, known officially as the ‘Monument to the Three-Point Charter for National Reunification,’ had been demolished. The three charters were self-reliance, peace and national cooperation, according to South Korean government records.

Kim called the monument an ‘eyesore’ in a speech at the Supreme People’s Assembly on Jan. 15, where he ordered that the constitution be amended to say the South was a ‘primary foe and invariable principal enemy,’ official media said.

He ordered it be ‘completely removed… to completely eliminate such concepts as ‘reunification,’ ‘reconciliation’ and ‘fellow countrymen’ from the national history of our Republic,’ NK News reports.

The move indicates a further deterioration of relations between the two countries. 

Kim also asked authorities to block all channels of north-south communication along the border, including physically and completely cutting off the railway tracks ‘to an irretrievable level,’ the publication reports.

Tensions have spiked on the Korean peninsula following intensifying military maneuvers by South Korea and the U.S. in response to weapons testing by the North, which said it was readying for a ‘nuclear war’ with its enemies.

Asked if North Korea appeared to be changing its posture on conflict with the South, White House spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Tuesday, ‘We’re watching this very, very closely.’

‘I would just tell you that we remain confident that the defensive posture that we’re maintaining on the peninsula is appropriate to the risk,’ he added.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, who took office in 2022, has taken a hard line against the North, calling for immediate and tough responses to North Korea’s military actions that have raised tensions on the Korean peninsula.

North Korea claims it has produced nuclear-capable underwater drones designed to destroy naval vessels. It has also been escalating missile tests and threats, with South Korea calling on the U.N. Security Council to address the situation. 

North Korea has vowed to ‘wipe out’ South Korea if attacked by the South and U.S. forces. Late last year, the North declared as no longer valid a key agreement signed with the South in 2018 aimed at de-escalating military tensions.

Reuters contributed to this report.  

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