Ministry to focus on North’s people

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Ministry to focus on North’s people

The government aims to make a greater distinction between the Kim Jong-il regime and ordinary North Korean citizens in its policies next year, Minister of Unification Hyun In-taek told President Lee Myung-bak at the Blue House on Wednesday.

In its report of its 2011 plans, the ministry raised the importance of considering North Korean citizens first, making it one of its four main goals for next year.

For starters, the ministry plans to increase transparency in humanitarian aid given to the North, so benefits go directly to citizens and not to high-ranking members of the government or the military.

The goal jibes with the government’s recent assertion that the citizens themselves had changed over the years, becoming more aware of the world outside their reclusive state.

Minister Hyun said North Koreans were not oblivious to things happening in the outside world, and that the South Korean government would try to induce “a desirable change” in them.

To do this, the ministry plans on developing “creative” methods to help ordinary citizens who now are aware enough to turn away from the Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-un regime through humanitarian aid.

Extending efforts to improve North Korean human rights are also on the ministry’s list, as it plans to establish legislation as well as a foundation to accurately examine the current status of human rights in the North.

It will also continue its anti-North propaganda efforts.

As for dealing with the communist regime, the ministry said it would remain consistent in its policies by maintaining the hard-line stance taken after the sinking of the Cheonan in March, but also emphasizing mutual cooperation in relations with the North.

“Constructive talks” with Pyongyang were also called for by the minister, who added that North and South Korea should be able to discuss “core matters,” referring to the Cheonan sinking and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island last month.

“For this to happen I believe we need responsibility and sincerity from North Korea,” he said, adding that the denuclearization of the North, families separated by the Korean War and other humanitarian issues were on the agenda to be discussed.

Hyun denied that any consideration was currently underway for summit talks between the two Koreas.

The ministry highlighted its goal to provide a realistic plan for future unification of the Korean Peninsula and said it would devise a way to come up with necessary unification funds in the first half of 2011 on the grounds that it would be a peaceful one.


By Christine Kim [christine.kim@joongang.co.kr]

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