Moon Chung-in alludes to adjusting May 24 sanctions on North Korea

Posted on : 2017-05-25 17:12 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Conservatives attack mention of easing sanctions, as Blue House has yet to take an official position
Moon Chung-in
Moon Chung-in

After Moon Chung-in, President Moon Jae-in’s special advisor on unification, diplomacy and security, suggested that it would be “practically necessary to adjust” the May 24 measures seven years after the measures were first imposed, conservative criticism of unconditional concessions to North Korea appears to be making a comeback.

“In order for the newly launched administration to take the initiative in inter-Korean relations, it needs to recognize the limitations of the May 24 measures and to resolve these in a forward-looking manner,” Moon said during a media interview on May 24, with the caveat that he was expressing his personal opinion. “Rather than cancelling them immediately, we need to be flexible about relaxing them as we watch for changes in North Korea’s attitude,” he added.

The May 24 Measures are sanctions on North Korea that were independently imposed by the government of former president Lee Myung-bak (2008-13) in the aftermath of the sinking of South Korea‘s Cheonan warship on Mar. 26, 2010. The main provisions of the sanctions are to prohibit all South Korean visits to North Korea aside from the Kaesong Industrial Complex, forbid all North Korean ships from entering South Korean waters, halt inter-Korean trade and ban new investments in North Korea.

The conservative opposition parties attacked Moon’s remarks. “Pumping dollars into North Korea by canceling the May 24 Measures and by resuming tours to Mt. Keumgang and operations at the Kaesong Industrial Complex would be throwing aside our security even as the awful prospect of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missiles stare us in the face,” conservative Liberty Korea Party floor leader Jung Woo-taek said during a party meeting on May 24. Conservative Bareun Party floor leader Joo Ho-young made similar remarks during a gathering of Bareun Party members: “Many experts believe that North Korea was saved while on the brink of collapse after the ‘Arduous March’ by the unconditional aid provided by progressive governments under the name of the Sunshine Policy.”

The Blue House has not taken an official stance on the May 24 Measures. “Not only are we currently focusing on sanctions, but the US-South Korean summit next month is right around the corner,” said a key official at the Blue House. “[Adjusting the May 24 measures] is an idea that could be suggested after North Korea shows its sincerity, and it’s not something that could happen right away.”

By Jung In-hwan and Lee Jung-ae, staff reporters

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