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Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
Inter-Korean dialogue and U.S.-South Korea joint military drills “can never be compatible” and must be stopped, North Korean media claimed in editorials on Friday, calling for Seoul to stop the exercises to continue talks.
In an op-ed, the North’s DPRK Today praised high-level inter-Korean talks on Tuesday, citing Pyongyang’s “leading and active measures and efforts” in achieving renewed dialogue.
“The entire fellow countrymen are looking forward that the path for improving relations will be opened,” the outlet said.
To live up to these hopes, the media said it is “crucial” for the two Koreas to “ease sharp military tensions.”
“The South Korean authorities must unconditionally stop every form of joint military drills – which are conducted in collusion with foreign powers – targeting us, to keep the atmosphere for dialogue alive hereafter,” DPRK Today said. “Dialogue and war exercises can never be compatible.”
State media also downplayed a recent decision by Seoul and Washington to postpone planned joint military drills until after the PyeongChang Olympic and Paralympic games.
Pyongyang said the U.S. and the South had molded public opinion to establish a “peaceful environment,” but that their “real intentions weren’t changed.”
Washington had been “unable to ignore the North’s leading efforts for improving the North-South relations and securing peace on the Korean peninsula, and the active support of public support from inside and outside the country.”
Both DPRK Today and Uriminzokkiri said Washington was seeking to prevent the two Koreas from improving relations.
“The U.S. is now clamoring about support for the improvement in the North-South relations,” the DPRK Today said.
“But they are pursuing the continued confrontation between the North and the South and making frantic efforts to realize ambition to dominate and interests for aggression.”
Citing a recent U.S. decision to deploy two nuclear-powered aircraft carriers – USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) and USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) – to near the Korean peninsula and to send USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) to the Western Pacific, editorials said Washington was working to undermine inter-Korean relations.
“This once again clearly proves that they don’t hope for an improvement in the North-South relations and for unification,” according to DPRK Today.
Uriminzokkiri said the purpose of the deployment was “too obvious,” and that Washington was attempting “all sorts of tricks to try to pour cold water” on the agreement between the two Koreas.
“Whenever the talks between the North and the South are held and there is a sign of improving relations in the past, the U.S. hampers it by engaging the military provocations and rash behaviors.”
ROK-U.S. joint military exercises “should be entirely suspended” instead of postponing them, the outlet said, in order to boost the North-South relations “properly.”
“Dialogue and war exercise can never be compatible,” Uriminzokkiri said.
DPRK Today also said the two Koreas could prevent war and soothe tensions on the Korean peninsula now Pyongyang has a “powerful war deterrent” to counter the U.S.
“The DPRK has putting proactive efforts into establishing an atmosphere to improve the North-South relations while firmly protecting peace and stability of Korean peninsula by overpowering nuclear of tyranny with nuclear weapons of justice.”
The Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), on Thursday called for Seoul to seek “independent reunification” by putting a stop to ROK-U.S. joint military drills, though it did not link the argument to recent talks.
U.S. President Donald Trump last week accepted a proposal by his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in to delay the annual Foal Eagle/Key Resolve U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises.
The U.S. President on Wednesday denied reports that he had reviewed military options against North Korea, Presidential Senior Secretary for Public Relations Yoon Young-chan said.
“I’d like to ask you to clearly notify [North Korea] that there will be no military action while the talks proceed between the South and the North,” Trump was quoted as having said.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: Republic of Korea Armed Forces