SEOUL, March 22 (UPI) -- North Korea abruptly withdrew from the inter-Korea liaison office in Kaesong on Friday.
North Korea's decision to pull out of the liaison office, a symbol of improved relations following the April 2018 inter-Korean summit at Panmunjom, could deliver a critical blow to North-South ties following the breakdown of talks between Washington and Pyongyang.
Seoul's unification ministry said Friday the South received communication from the North the decision came from a "superior authority," Yonhap reported.
The order is likely to have originated from Kim Jong Un, who may have the ultimate authority to make such critical and unilateral decisions.
The decision was made without consulting the South, and comes after Pyongyang's propaganda services severely criticized South Korean government agencies for cooperating with the United States.
Pyongyang said the South Koreans could keep their personnel at Kaesong despite the withdrawal.
"On practical matters, we will notify you in the future," North Korea told the South, according to the unification ministry.
Seoul has said the withdrawal decision is "regrettable," and said it hopes North Korea will soon return to normal operations, the Chosun Ilbo reported.
The liaison office was agreed upon at Panmunjom in April and again during high-level talks in June of last year. It began operations on Sept. 14, 2018.
Jon Chong Su, vice chairman of the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country, and chief official responsible for the office, has been absent from the liaison office since Feb. 1, according to the Chosun.