Unification Minister Lee In-young (Yonhap)
Unification Minister Lee In-young did not mean that global sanctions are the sole reason for causing a humanitarian crisis in North Korea when he recently stressed the need to review their efficacy, his spokesperson said Wednesday.
In an interview with the Financial Times last week, Lee raised the need to see whether sanctions have just ended up causing hardships to North Korean people without achieving their intended purpose of forcing Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons program.
The remarks, however, have drawn controversy as some officials in the United States and the European Union reportedly said that it is not global sanctions, but the Kim Jong-un regime that should take responsibility for the current humanitarian crisis in North Korea.
"He meant to say that it is necessary to comprehensively review whether sanctions are contributing positively to achieving the purpose of facilitating the denuclearization (of North Korea)," Lee Jong-joo, the ministry's spokesperson, told reporters.
"The remarks were based on a perception that it is time to comprehensively review the efficacy of sanctions as it has been about five years since such tough sanctions were adopted," she added.
The spokesperson noted that the ministry believes that the humanitarian crisis in the North has been caused by various factors, including global sanctions, natural disasters in recent years and the fallout from its prolonged fight against the global pandemic.
North Korea has been slapped with a series of tough global sanctions due to its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Those sanctions banning major economic cooperation with North Korea have been cited as a major hurdle for South Korea, which is seeking to jump-start chilled cross-border ties through cross-border exchanges. (Yonhap)