A South Korean NGO on Wednesday received government approval to make contact with the North, the second such approval by the Moon Jae-in administration so far.
“Yes, we are now authorized to exchange handwritten letters or faxes with our counterparts in the North,” Lee Seung-hwan, a representative of the June 15 South Korean Committee, told NK News.
Exchanges through email or phone calls are not an option, Lee said, as their North Korean counterparts are not permitted to use them.
“I welcome the fact that a minimum level of inter-Korean connection has been restored,” Lee said.
Private inter-Korean contact was banned by the previous South Korean administration after Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test in January last year, and Seoul’s continued approval of new inter-Korean initiatives comes despite continued ballistic missile testing by the North.
On Monday, North Korea announced that it had test-launched an “ultra-precision” rocket: its third test in as many weeks.
During an interview with NK News last week, Lee said the committee was planning to hold a joint ceremony with the North to celebrate the 17th anniversary of the June 15th North–South Joint Declaration.
The committee now plans to begin organizing the event, which they are hoping to hold in North Korea, but they are yet to receive permission from the government to visit the North.
“I am hoping that the government will review this case more positively,” said Lee.
One religion group also told NK News that they were planning an inter-Korean religious meeting, to be held in Pyongyang from June 17 to 20.
The Korea Conference of Religions for Peace (KCRP), which had its last inter-Korean meeting at Mount Kumkang in 2015, said they are planning for a meeting in Pyongyang this month.
“During the Asian Conference of Religions for Peace (ACRP) held in Beijing China from May 18 to 22, a South Korean official from KCRP and a North Korean official from the Korean Council of Religionists (KCR) held meetings multiple times,” Jung In-sung, a spokesperson for the group, told NK News.
“The two sides agreed to hold an inter-Korean meeting in Pyongyang from June 17 to 20… as part of efforts to alleviate the level of inter-Korean conflicts,” said Jung, adding that they plan to closely cooperate with the South Korea government in coordinating the event.
Seoul is yet to say whether it will allow inter-Korean meetings in the near future, however.
Three days ago, an official from the shuttered inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) told NK News of his plan to visit the KIC with the June 15 South Korean Committee’s participation.
South Korea’s Ministry of Unification (MoU) said that restoring inter-Korean contact is a separate matter from allowing NGOs to visit the North.
“The NGOs’ requests were for approval of inter-Korean contact,” an official from the spokesperson’s office of the MOU told NK News.
“But approving the visit to the North is a separate matter, which they have to make another request for. Once the detailed applications arrive, we will review them.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: The June 15 South Korean Committee
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