The new chief of South Korea's major pro-unification group said Tuesday that he will explore ways to extend humanitarian aid to North Korea to restart stalled inter-Korean civilian exchanges.
Kim Hong-gul, the head of the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation, also told reporters that he is seeking to revive communication channels with the agency's North Korean counterpart for that goal.
"There are some limitations (in promoting inter-Korean exchanges) under the UN sanctions regime and Seoul's punitive measures. But extending humanitarian aid to North Korea, such as giving medication to children suffering from Tuberculosis, would be allowed even under the UN sanctions, as it is related to North Koreans' livelihoods," Kim said. "I plan to explore such ways to extend humanitarian assistance to the North."
|This photo, taken Dec. 12, 2017, shows Kim Hong-gul, new chief of the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation, speaking to reporters. (Yonhap)|
Kim is the third son of late former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000 for his role in bringing peace to the Korean Peninsula with the so-called Sunshine Policy of engaging with North Korea.
The former president held the two Koreas' first summit with his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang in June 2000. His successor Roh Moo-hyun held a summit with the then-leader of the North in October 2007. The summits produced key declarations on reconciliation and peace.
Kim, who was named to lead the group in November, expressed the hope that his agency could play a role in easing strained inter-Korean ties.
"We are exploring ways to revive communication channels (with the North), hoping that an outcome may come in one or two months," he said. "We are seeking to contact North Korea over humanitarian aid."
North Korea has kept mum on Seoul's offer for dialogue and rejected civic groups' offers of humanitarian assistance in protest against South Korea's support of international sanctions.
"North Korea is shunning South Korea's proposal, but (North Korean leader Kim Jong-un) would not be able to ignore his father's 'dying wishes' of supporting the spirit of the summit declarations," Kim added.
Tensions on the divided peninsula remain high, with North Korea's ceaseless nuclear and missile development. North Korea has conducted six nuclear tests since 2006, including its latest in September. It has also fired three intercontinental ballistic missiles this year. (Yonhap)