After last week's threat to call off their armistice with South Korea, officials disconnected the hotline built to avert disaster. Because the two countries are officially not speaking to each other—they have no embassies or diplomatic relations—the only formal communication line between Pyongyang and Seoul is a Red Cross telephone line that was set up in 1971. They test the line twice a day, but when the South called the North at 9:00 a.m. on Monday morning, nobody picked up.
No need to panic just yet. The North has done this before when it's been ticked off at the South. (The last time was in 2010.) But the message is clear that they are not backing down from their recent saber-rattling over the joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises. They also aren't pleased about the new U.N. Security Council resolutions that were placed on them last Thursday. Even though they haven't acted on it yet, the North is still talking as if the cease fire agreement (that dates back to 1953) is kaput, and that the two countries are once again in a state of open war. They even got a few thousand friends together to "celebrate" the military for tearing up the armistice. (Here's the full version of that picture.)
However, those military exercises that have upset them so much actually makes it a bad time to go messing around with the U.S. Navy. There are nearly 30,000 American troops stationed in the South Korea on a permanent basis and they are all on heightened alert right now.
That's also probably why the South's highest-ranking generals weren't sweating the prospect of doing battle this weekend. Instead of preparing for all-out war, they reportedly spent the weekend playing golf.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.