3RD LD: N. Korea threatens to cut off overland passage from S. Korea.
(EDS: ADDING DETAILS)
North Korea threatened Wednesday to ''strictly restrict and cut off'' overland passage through the military demarcation line with South Korea from December, saying Seoul is taking a policy of confrontation toward Pyongyang.
Lt. Gen. Kim Yong Chol of the North's military who heads the nation's delegation to military talks between the two countries sent a notice to South Korea informing the country of the decision, the official Korean Central News Agency reported.
''The racket of confrontation with the DPRK'' is ''going beyond the danger level,'' the KCNA quoted the notice as saying.
''We officially inform the south side that the actual crucial measure taken by the KPA to strictly restrict and cut off all the overland passages through the Military Demarcation Line will take effect from Dec. 1,'' it said.
DPRK is the acronym for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. KPA is its military, the Korean People's Army.
The report said that this will be North Korea's ''first step'' of measures, indicating that further actions could follow depending on South Korea's policy.
''The south Korean puppet authorities should never forget that the present inter-Korean relations are at the crucial crossroads of existence and total severance,'' the report said.
Pyongyang had earlier warned it would totally freeze bilateral exchanges with Seoul and mete out ''decisive and merciless punishment'' if South Korean President Lee Myung Bak continues to pursue hard-line policies toward the North.
In South Korea, Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Ho Nyoun said in a statement, ''We think it is regrettable for (North Korea) to take these measures.''
''We remain hopeful the South and the North would continue to hold talks and cooperate with each other to develop relations based on mutual existence and prosperity,'' the statement said.
North Korea has also been angered by South Korean groups which have flown leaflets carrying anti-North Korea remarks into the country using balloons, and has repeatedly demanded that they stop.
If the passage between the military demarcation line is halted, it would impact South Korean tourists who visit the North Korean border city of Kaesong, as well as the joint industrial complex in the city.