SEOUL: The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) said on Friday that it was scrapping all accords with the Republic of Korea (ROK).
ROK Prime Minister Han Seung-soo responded that the move could be timed to coincide with US President Barack Obama assuming office.
"First, all the agreed points concerning the issue of putting an end to the political and military confrontation between the DPRK and the ROK will be nullified," said a statement issued by the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, the Pyongyang organization in charge of ties with Seoul.
"Second, the Agreement on Reconciliation, Non-aggression, Cooperation and Exchange between the DPRK and the ROK and the points on the military boundary line in the West Sea stipulated in its appendix will be nullified."
"There is neither a way to improve (relations) nor hope to bring them back on track," DPRK's KCNA news agency quoted the committee as having said.
"The confrontation between the DPRK and the ROK in the political and military fields has been put to such extremes that the inter-Korean relations have reached the brink of a war."
The latest rise in tension, analysts said, increases the risk of a military clash on the strongly defended border that has divided the Korean Peninsula for more than half a century.
KCNA criticized ROK President Lee Myung-bak for appointing a new minister in charge of relations on the peninsula, saying he was an architect of the government's "undisguised policy for confrontation with the DPRK".
Seoul said it regretted Pyongyang's move, and ROK Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Ho-nyoun urged the DPRK "to accept our call for dialogue as soon as possible".
The ROK Defense Ministry, however, said it would take "firm counteraction" against any attempt by the DPRK to violate its sea border on the Yellow Sea.
A presidential official's statement was more restrained, though: "Our position is that there is no need to react sensitively or get happy or sad over every single statement issued with some political motive (by the DPRK)."
Speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos, ROK Prime Minister Han Seung-soo said he hoped the DPRK would hold talks instead of making threats. "We hope that instead of threats of this kind, the DPRK would come out to talk to us on matters of mutual concern and interest," he said.
Asked whether the timing was tied to Obama's inauguration, Han said: "I don't know what is behind their thinking, but I'm sure the inauguration of the Obama administration must have had some impact on the thinking of the DPRK on global issues, as well as the issue of the Korean Peninsula."
Some analysts said the move could be aimed more at the new Obama administration to prompt it to take notice of Pyongyang. The DPRK hinted in a New Year message that it is willing to work with Obama - who has suggested he is open to talks.
Xinhua - Agencies