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Ex-President Says  Korea Ties May Reach Catastrophe


Former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to ease tensions between the two Koreas, has warned that North-South relations may be heading toward disaster.

In an interview published Friday, Mr. Kim told the Hankook Ilbo newspaper that North and South Korea are at a crossroads -- heading toward reconciliation or catastrophe.

Earlier this week, relations deteriorated with North Korea announcing it will close its border to the south in response to what it calls South Korea's "confrontational" stance.

The North's official news agency said beginning December 1, North Korea will close all passages at the Military Demarcation Line that separates the bitter rivals.

Relations between the two Koreas have been tense since South Korean President Lee Myung-bak took office in February. Mr. Lee promised to take a tougher stance with the North.

Pyongyang has threatened to cut off all ties with Seoul because of that government's hard-line stance with the isolated regime. It accuses the South of taking confrontation "beyond the danger level."

The North previously threatened to reduce South Korea to "debris" unless it stops activists from sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border. It also threatened to expel South Koreans from a joint industrial complex in Kaesong, just north of the border.

Tensions between North and South Korea were further aggravated by the July shooting death of a South Korean tourist by North Korean soldiers at a mountain resort.

The two Koreas technically remain in a state of war, since their three-year conflict ended in 1953 with a truce, not a peace treaty.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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