Seoul says fundamental resolution of N. Korean issues ‘highly possible'

By Catherine Chung
  • Published : Aug 9, 2017 - 17:09
  • Updated : Aug 9, 2017 - 17:43
Tensions around the Korean Peninsula remain high after North Korea's recent missile tests followed by its provocative threat Wednesday to engulf a US territory in a barrage of missiles, a ranking South Korean official said.

However, the situation does not represent a crisis, the official from Seoul's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said, noting the North Korean threat may have been multipurposed but not to incite an actual conflict.

"I do not agree with the claim that the Korean Peninsula faces an imminent crisis," the official told reporters, while speaking on the condition of anonymity.

"It is true the situation on the Korean Peninsula is becoming very serious due to North Korea's repeated provocations though many believe they are rather strategic provocations. We are working to fundamentally resolve the North Korean nuclear and missile issues at the earliest date possible, and are working with a belief that the possibility is very high," the official said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspects a missile before its launch in May 2017. (KCNA-Yonhap)

"However, I do not believe the situation has reached a state of crisis, and rather think we may turn this into an opportunity to overcome the serious security condition."

The remarks from the Cheong Wa Dae official came hours after an unidentified spokesman for the North's Korean People's Army (KPA) said Pyongyang was "carefully examining the operational plan for making an enveloping fire at the areas around Guam with medium-to-long-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 in order to contain the US major military bases on Guam."

The latest threat from the communist state came shortly after US President Donald Trump warned the North will be met by "fire and fury" should it continue to make threats against his country.

The Cheong Wa Dae official said the statement from the KPA, carried by the North's Korean Central News Agency, may have been aimed at wreaking havoc in South Korea and its allies while bolstering the solidarity of its own people.

"I believe it may have had a number of purposes, such as creating security concerns in our country, weakening the Korea-US alliance and also forcing the United States to somewhat loosen up its North Korea policy," the official said.

"The one thing North Korea must realize is that the situation is becoming less and less favorable to the North. We urge the North to quickly respond to our reasonable offers," he added, apparently referring to Seoul's earlier proposal to hold military and Red Cross talks.

Pyongyang has remained silent over the talks aimed at discussing ways to ease tensions along the Korean demarcation line and other humanitarian issues, such as reunions of families separated by the division of the two Koreas. (Yonhap)