In a press briefing held Tuesday, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha also said that the Seoul government could secure support from ASEAN countries in its approach toward the North that focuses on not only sanctions and pressure but also talks aimed at easing tensions.
Kang was in Manila to attend ASEAN meetings, including the ASEAN Regional Forum, a rare international event to which North Korea also sends its foreign minister annually. North Korean Foreign Minster Ri Yong-ho joined the forum Monday.
"I think that this was a stage for North Korea to keenly realize its diplomatic isolation," Kang told reporters. "Things were tough from the start due to the adoption of Resolution 2371 at the U.N. Security Council, and the North's statement issued in response made the isolation get worse by declaring its unyielding stance."
On Saturday, the UNSC adopted a fresh sanctions resolution unanimously to punish the North for its two claimed intercontinental ballistic missile launches in July. China, its biggest trade partner and the closet ally, and Russia joined the US and other countries in adopting the latest UNSC resolution.
The resolution includes a complete ban on the North's exports of coal, a major source of money needed to advance its weapons program.
In a rare move, foreign ministers of the 10-member ASEAN issued a statement Saturday -- one day before Ri came to Manila -- expressing "grave concerns" over the escalation of tensions caused by the North. Kang called it a "tone setter" for the following ASEAN meetings.
The North reacted angrily by issuing a government statement Monday, condemning the UNSC's latest action and threatened to retaliate against the US.
Kang said that Ri had asked for bilateral meetings with many ASEAN countries, but the requests were all rejected. He only held a meeting with the Philippine foreign minister, who she said delivered the ASEAN stance on the North Korea issue as a representative of the 10-member organization.
Asked about what diplomatic achievement the Seoul government has made at this year's ASEAN meetings, Kang said she could draw clear support from many countries for the so-called Berlin initiative announced in July by President Moon Jae-in to address the North's nuclear issue through both pressure and talks. (Yonhap)