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S. Korea eyes guideline for NK policy with civic sector by 2021

The government plans to put together a set of lasting principles on North Korea policy by 2021, through consultations with civil society, that can survive through administrations regardless of their ideological differences, officials said Tuesday.

Concluding the so-called "national pact on unification" is one of the goals of the administration of President Moon Jae-in in a nation in which conservatives and liberals are sharply divided on how to deal with North Korea.

No time frame has been given so far, but officials at the unification ministry said Tuesday that they plan to clinch the pact by 2021, one year before Moon's five-year term expires, after collecting opinions from the government, political parties and civilians.
This photo, taken on Sept. 19, 2017, shows Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon. (Yonhap)
This photo, taken on Sept. 19, 2017, shows Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon. (Yonhap)

"Seoul will seek a 'bottom-up' approach for the project," said a ministry official. "We are aiming at reaching the pact by 2021, one year before President Moon Jae-in's (five-year) term, and make up for what's missing for one year to put that into action."

The move is aimed at promoting two-way communications among the government and civil society amid criticism that the government unilaterally devises its North Korea policy and tends to be swayed by the political spectrum.

Conservative governments have a tough stance towards North Korea, while liberal administrations seek dialogue and engagement with Pyongyang. There is a division among South Koreans over how to handle North Korea amid its nuclear and missile aspirations.

Liberal President Moon took office in May with a five-year single term as he vowed to seek sanctions and dialogue in resolving North Korea's nuclear standoff.

An envisioned consultative body will be created with representatives from civil society and the government, the ministry said. (Yonhap)