Seoul’s objective with N. Korea is ‘northward march’ for freedom, says unification minister

Posted on : 2024-02-06 17:25 KST Modified on : 2024-02-06 17:25 KST
The unification minister also signaled a possible increase in propaganda and psychological warfare operations from South Korea
Minister of Unification Kim Yung-ho speaks at a special roundtable attended by himself and the directors of four major think tanks, held at the Four Seasons Hotel Seoul on Feb. 5. (Lee Je-hun/The Hankyoreh)
Minister of Unification Kim Yung-ho speaks at a special roundtable attended by himself and the directors of four major think tanks, held at the Four Seasons Hotel Seoul on Feb. 5. (Lee Je-hun/The Hankyoreh)

South Korean Unification Minister Kim Yung-ho declared on Monday that South Korea will pursue a policy of “advancing northward for freedom” when it comes to North Korea. 

“Although the North has scrapped its policy of unification and continues to cut off ties with us, we will pursue policies of unification and inter-Korean affairs in accordance with Articles 3 and 4 of the Constitution,” the minister said during a roundtable discussion with the leaders of policy research institutes held that day at the Four Seasons Hotel in Seoul.

Kim’s comments regarding a policy of “advancing north for freedom” are a salute to the approach of the Yoon Suk-yeol administration, which has emphasized the value of freedom. Kim appears to be answering Yoon’s call for ramping up Seoul’s psychological warfare, potentially signaling an increase in propaganda and psychological warfare operations from South Korea. 

“While North Korea has officially declared our two nations as separate, we will continue to pursue a Korean Peninsula policy that emphasizes universal values like individual freedoms and human rights — a policy that aims to embrace the people of North Korea,” Kim said in prepared remarks, noting that freedom is a “key principle” that guides the Yoon administration. 

“We will draft our policies on North Korea and our foreign policies based on the four freedoms, with the aim of achieving peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and the denuclearization of North Korea,” he added.

The “four freedoms” here refer to freedom from the threat of nuclear war, the freedom of association, the basic freedoms outlined in the Republic of Korea Constitution, and the realization of freedom via peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula. 

“North Korea’s sudden policy change,” Kim said, referring to Pyongyang’s announcement that it considers the two Koreas as separate, hostile nations, “will cause confusion and unrest within North Korea. The potential for chaos and unrest is something we need to focus on.”

The unification minister appeared to make a reference to the now-demolished Arch of Reunification, saying that Kim Jong-un has been “tearing down the foundations of hereditary succession of power behind the regime” since the start of the new year.

“We cannot rule out the possibility of confusion amid an ideological vacuum within the North Korean regime,” the unification minister added. 

By Lee Je-hun, senior staff writer

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