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N.K. calls on Seoul to mend ties

North Korea blamed South Korea Tuesday for its “confrontational acts,” calling for efforts from Seoul “to create a mood” for improved inter-Korean ties.

Pyongyang’s call for better relations came five days after it rejected Seoul’s offer to hold talks to discuss reunions of families separated by 1950-53 Korean War.

While North Korea had made a series of rare charm offensives to South Korea after its leader Kim Jong-un called for improved inter-Korean ties in his New Year’s address, the North rejected the proposal for talks, citing the upcoming Seoul-Washington annual joint military exercises, among other reasons.

“The improvement of inter-Korean relations is crucial to deal with reunification matters from our perspective,” the North said in an article carried by the North’s main newspaper, the Rodong Shinmun.

Slamming South Korea for the regular military exercises due next month and officials’ remarks about the chance of North Korean provocations, the communist country claimed that “how the inter-Korean relations unfold is solely up to what stance South Korea takes.”

Seoul and Washington say the drills are defensive in nature.

“The priority to improve relations should be to stop slander and provocations against its counterpart,” read the article, vowing “continued active efforts this year” for the goal.

While rejecting the prospect of reunions around the end of this month, the North indicated that they may take place in “a good season,” a thinly veiled request to link them to the resumption of a suspended tour program to Mount Kumgang, a scenic mountain resort on North Korea’s east coast.

South Korea suspended the tour programs following the shooting dead of a South Korean tourist by a North Korean guard in 2008. The North has since repeatedly called for the resumption of the tours, which served as one of the few legitimate revenue sources for the cash-strapped country.(Yonhap News)
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