North Korea still with no official response to South’s dialogue offer

Posted on : 2017-07-21 15:15 KST Modified on : 2017-07-21 15:15 KST
Commentary in North Korea’s official newspaper pushes for a change in Seoul’s approach to inter-Korean relations
A North Korean soldier looks across the DMZ to Panmunjeom Peace Village on July 19 in Paju
A North Korean soldier looks across the DMZ to Panmunjeom Peace Village on July 19 in Paju

As of the evening of July 20, one day before the deadline for the inter-Korean military talks that the South Korean government proposed on July 17, North Korea had not made any response. Seoul announced that it had unsuccessfully attempted to make contact with the North through its liaison officers at Panmunjeom peace village, on the South side of the DMZ, on the same day.

“In regard to the military talks, we haven’t gotten a response from North Korea yet. We’re waiting for a positive response from the North,” said Defense Ministry spokesperson Moon Sang-gyun during the press briefing on the afternoon of July 20. Moon also said that South Korea “is always ready to take a call” in case North Korea responds via the military communication lines on the West (Yellow) Sea. If the North chooses not to respond, the South Korean military plans to discuss its course of action with the Unification Ministry.

On the fourth day with no official response from North Korea, the Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of North Korea’s Workers’ Party, ran a political commentary written by one individual in its July 20 edition that criticized the attempts by the South Korean government under President Moon Jae-in to improve inter-Korean relations. “The South Korean government’s talk about improving relations even as it makes clear its attempts to confront its counterparts [North Korea] with open hostility are illogical and can only be seen as an attempt to manipulate public opinion,” said the column, which was titled, “The great unity of the whole Korean nation involves reunification.” This is at odds with another commentary in the July 15 issue of the paper, which picked apart Moon’s Berlin Declaration while praising the new government’s willingness to implement the June 15 Joint Statement and the Oct. 4 Statement. While the previous commentary led analysts to speculate that North Korea was open to the idea of dialogue, this commentary appears to be strongly pushing for change in the Moon administration’s attitude.

“Unfortunately, inter-Korean relations at present are located in an extreme situation not of unity but of confrontation. Eliminating the vices of confrontation and hostility is the prerequisite for paving a broad road toward reconciliation and unity between North and South Korea and toward the great reunion of the Korean people,” the newspaper said.

“The current South Korean government is disregarding North Korea’s good will and its efforts to improve inter-Korean relations under the principle of national autonomy and is attempting to strengthen its alliance with foreign powers and its cooperation with pressure against the North. If South Koreans seek confrontation by colluding with foreign powers while taking a hostile stance toward their fellow countrymen, it will never be possible to achieve reconciliation and unity between North and South Korea.”

By Kim Ji-eun, staff reporter

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