SEOUL (AFP) - North Korea on Saturday rejected South Korea's proposal for talks as mere "wordplay" and insisted Seoul should first scrap military exercises. South Korea called this week for talks with North Korea to ease worsening tensions after the North ratcheted up the pressure on Seoul with a vow to close their common border. The proposal for dialogue is "nothing more than wordplay" to avoid responsibility for aggravating relations, Rodong Sinmun, the North's ruling party newspaper, said in a commentary. South Korea should first stop its "provocative" war games, which aggravated inter-Korean relations and hurt "the mood of dialogue and peace," it said. After months of frosty relations, the North this week announced it would shut the border from December 1 in protest at what it called Seoul's policy of confrontation. A total border closure would cripple the Seoul-funded Kaesong industrial complex, a joint project built in the North as a symbol of reconciliation. The North also closed its Red Cross office in the border village of Panmunjom and cut the organisation's phone lines there. The North has said it is also protesting Seoul's failure to honour inter-Korean summit agreements in 2000 and 2007. And it is furious at the spreading of propaganda leaflets across the border by Seoul activists, and has previously threatened to expel South Koreans from Kaesong in protest. Seoul says it has asked activists to stop launching balloons laden with leaflets but cannot legally bar them. Relations soured after conservative South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak took office in February. He promised to take a firmer line with the North after a decade-long "sunshine" engagement policy under his liberal predecessors.