Pyongyang demands apology before talks

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Pyongyang demands apology before talks

In response to the proposal for dialogue from Seoul and Washington, Pyongyang demanded “an apology” as a precondition for talks.

The North Korean army’s Supreme Command gave an “ultimatum” to the South Korean government yesterday.

“If the puppet groups indeed want a dialogue and a negotiation, they will have to show their practical will to cease and apologize for all of their anti-DPRK hostile acts they have committed so far,” the statement read.

North Korea also lashed out at some conservative South Korean activists who burned an effigy of leader Kim Jong-un as part of an anti-Pyongyang protest on Monday, the birthday of founder Kim Il Sung.

“Although the tense situation continues, we all raised ourselves up and celebrated our biggest national holiday, the Day of the Sun [the birthday of Kim Il Sung],” the statement said.

“The Southern puppet groups brought some anti-communist gangsters out to stage an anti-DPRK demonstration, burning the portrait of the symbol of our utmost dignity.”

The “ultimatum” came after Seoul and Washington proposed a dialogue with the regime, in order to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Pyongyang has ratcheted up its bellicose language against Seoul and Washington since the UN Security Council imposed tougher sanctions in response to its latest nuclear and missile tests.

The ongoing Seoul-Washington joint war games, which involve at least 200,000 South Korean and 10,000 U.S. soldiers, also unnerved Pyongyang, although the allies say they are routine. The two-month exercises end on April 30.

Analysts in Seoul say Pyongyang appears to be toning-down its warlike rhetoric in the midst of increasing pressure from the international community.

“Although it is conditional, North Korea opened a possibility for talks [through the ultimatum],” Cheong Seong-chang, a senior fellow at the Sejong Institute, said.

Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies, also said, “They are saying if the South wants to talk, they need to set the mood first.”


By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]
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