North Korea appears willing to push for humanitarian aid from South Korea by calling for cross-border dialogue in its New Year's message, despite tension that soared when the North attacked a South Korean island last year, the government said Saturday.
In its analysis of a joint press editorial from Pyongyang, the Unification Ministry in Seoul also warned that the North will continue to create a rift among the South Korean public by reaching out to groups disenchanted with their conservative government.
The New Year's message, released through the North's official Korean Central News Agency, "shifts blame on us for the ties that worsened while highlighting the humanitarian projects and patience the North conceded last year," the ministry said in a statement.
In a bid to set the mood for rice and fertilizer assistance, the North agreed in the later half of last year to resume the brief reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.
Since the Nov. 23 bombardment of the South Korean border island of Yeonpyeong, however, Seoul has essentially stopped sending humanitarian aid to the impoverished communist neighbor.
The lengthy South Korean analysis also noted that the North did not repeat its 2010 goal of ending the technical state of war that has lasted on the peninsula since the Korean War ended in a truce.
"As has been since 2008, completely absent was the direct denunciation of the United States," a major signatory to the truce that has 28,500 troops stationed in the South, the ministry said.
Pyongyang, however, has refrained this year from calling for dialogue with Washington, unlike last year, the ministry added.
North Korea still reiterated its pledge to push for a denuclearized Korean Peninsula, a phraseology that suggests it continues to suspect the U.S. hides nuclear arms in South Korea.
The 5,900-word-long joint editorial focused heavily on the need to revive the economy ahead of 2012, the year the North designated as a moment in its history as a "powerful, great and prosperous nation" to honor the centenary of the birth of its founder, Kim Il-sung.
North Korea mentioned its economic pledge ahead of all others in its New Year's message for the second straight year, underscoring its urgency in dealing with economic hardships, the ministry said. The North had raised political slogans before other pledges in 2008 and 2009. (Yonhapnews)