A North Korean propaganda outlet urged South Korea on Tuesday to separate inter-Korean relations from denuclearization issues, a day ahead of the second meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump.
Voicing dissatisfaction over slow progress in building ties between South and North Korea, Meari blamed Seoul for dealing with inter-Korean relations within the framework of sanctions by linking ties to Pyongyang’s denuclearization.
In this April 27, 2018 file photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (left) and South Korean President Moon Jae-in embrace each other after signing on a joint statement at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, South Korea. (AP-Yonhap)
“There shouldn’t be conditions attached as long as we hope for the development of inter-Korean relations ... regrettably, the relations have not yet led to a strong and practical development and remained in creating a mood,” an article from the online state-run publication said.
It asserted that sanctions are against humanity and are part of an unjust plot designed by a hostile power of the international community to annihilate the North’s autonomy and rights.
“Now is the time to see North-South Korea relations with a new perspective and new way of thinking by departing from customs of the past,” it said.
For months, North Korea has been seeking the lifting of harsh US-led sanctions in exchange for the dismantlement of its nuclear weapons program. However, the US and its allies have called for restrictions to remain in place until the North takes more concrete actions.
Despite the thaw in relations following three meetings between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim in 2018, inter-Korean economic cooperation projects have been on hold due to international sanctions that prohibit bringing large amounts of cash and technology into the communist state.
Not speeding up the development of the inter-Korean relationship due to the restrictions is like “reaching out its hands and feet to the chain of sanctions,” Meari said.
North Korea has been under a range of international and US sanctions since 2008 over its nuclear program and missile tests. Tougher restrictions have been imposed on the isolated country due to its nuclear and missile tests, including a test of a long-range ballistic missile capable of reaching the continental US.
On Feb. 19, President Moon suggested the possible role Seoul could play in giving North Korea corresponding measures in negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington.
In a telephone conversation with US President Donald Trump, Moon said Seoul is prepared to take on any role -- from inter-Korean rail projects to inter-Korean economic cooperation -- if requested by Trump, and that that could lessen the burden on the US.
Experts here say the suspended tour to North Korea’s resort on Kumgangsan could be resumed as a reciprocal step by the US. Other options may include approval of the resumption of operations at the Kaesong industrial park or a project to reconnect railways and roads across the divided Korean Peninsula.
By Park Han-na (firstname.lastname@example.org