중앙데일리

Beijing says Pyongyang has grudge against Seoul

Nov 09,2019
A Beijing diplomatic source told a group of visiting South Korean journalists last week that the North “may have doubts” about the South Korean government’s sincerity toward inter-Korean ties, which is why it recently threatened to remove all South Korean facilities from the Mount Kumgang tourist area.

The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told the reporters during a press conference on Oct. 29 in China that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un “must have” asked South Korean President Moon Jae-in over their four meetings to resume operations at the Kaesong Industrial Complex and the Mount Kumgang tourist area - two of the most iconic vestiges of inter-Korean cooperation, which the South pulled out from in previous conservative administrations.

Kim had hoped Moon would give the green light for both initiatives, but because Seoul failed to meet those expectations, it seems Pyongyang has developed a grudge, the source said.

A crucial moment for the regime that made it turn against the South, the source went on, was probably the disappointing period after a ceremony last December in Kaesong, just north of the inter-Korean border, through which both Koreas vowed to develop North Korean railways and link them with South Korea’s.

“There was no progress after the ceremony,” said the Beijing source, adding that the Chinese government hopes Seoul “continues to try to actively engage in talks and reconcile” with Pyongyang.

Asked about China’s lack of practical measures for North Korean denuclearization and reluctance toward implementing international sanctions against the North, the source said Beijing was “convincing” Pyongyang publicly and behind closed doors, stressing it was China’s steadfast stance that the North should give up its nuclear weapons.

“Considering the fact that China accounts for 90 percent of North Korea’s foreign trade, China is basically implementing most of the sanctions,” the source said. “China has been making the biggest efforts” for North Korean denuclearization.

On the issue surrounding the U.S.-led Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) antimissile system that South Korea deployed in 2017, which China furiously opposes, the source said it was a “mistake” for the South Korean government to follow through with the installation, continuing that the government and South Korean public should “reflect” on that bad decision.

Seoul “created huge mistrust” between China and South Korea in the process of deploying Thaad, said the source, adding, “It would’ve been okay if South Korea developed Thaad on its own [and deployed it], but it took a U.S. weapons system and affected a third country [China] with it, which is why China sees it as [causing] harm to its national security.”

The Beijing source also brushed off accusations that Chinese military aircraft were wrongfully entering the Korea Air Defense Identification Zone (Kadiz), stressing that Kadiz isn’t Korea’s sovereign airspace, which means China isn’t violating any international law.

“The Korean media and Defense Ministry are portraying false information” to the Korean public, the source complained.

BY CHUN SU-JIN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]


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