North tells South to step away from ‘outer forces’

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North tells South to step away from ‘outer forces’

North Korea urged the South Korean government Tuesday to live up to the inter-Korean peace declarations of 2000 and 2007 while distancing from “outer forces,” saying Seoul’s humanitarian aid and recent approval of private human-to-human communication between the two countries were not enough to improve the soured relationship.

The statements were relayed in an editorial run by the state-run Rodong Sinmun, North Korea’s official mouthpiece.

On Monday, the North rejected a local civic group’s offer to visit Pyongyang this Saturday to provide malaria prevention medication, suggesting the two sides talk “after inter-Korean relations improve.”

The Korean Sharing Movement, which won approval from the Unification Ministry late last month to communicate with the North, said Pyongyang was “infuriated” by a recently passed UN Security Council resolution sanctioning its officials and companies, and questioned Seoul’s sincerity in establishing friendly grounds with the regime.

Director Hong Sang-young said Pyongyang had expressed “regret” about Seoul’s approval of the resolution and that officials doubted the timing was right to engage with the South.

“Just because South Korea changed administrations doesn’t mean inter-Korean relations will automatically improve,” read the article from Rodong Sinmun.

“It’s not about who became president,” the newspaper continued, “but whether that person has the will to respect and enforce the joint declarations” of June 15, 2000, and Oct. 4, 2007.

Although resuming cooperation and interaction between private groups in both countries is “necessary,” the North said, Seoul and Pyongyang would have to tackle the “core” issue that brought both sides into their current “catastrophic” state.

North Korea blamed the former conservative Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye administrations for ignoring the joint declarations and siding with other countries to tackle the regime.

The June 15th North-South Joint Declaration was adopted by then-South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il as a result of the first inter-Korean summit since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. The five-point declaration says Seoul and Pyongyang agreed to “solve the question of the country’s reunification independently by the concerted efforts of the Korean nation,” to promote the “balanced development” through economic cooperation and “build mutual confidence by activating cooperation and exchanges in all fields.”

In the eight-point Oct. 4 declaration, signed by then-South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and North Korea’s Kim Jong-il, both sides agreed to achieve unification on their own initiative, cooperate to end military hostilities, recognize the need to end the armistice and boost cooperation in various fields.

President Moon Jae-in has made clear he would deviate from his predecessor’s hard-line stance and adopt a two-track approach that would condemn the regime’s weapons development program while seeking dialogue and promoting exchanges at the private level.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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