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View more articles by Dagyum Ji
Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
DPRK media on Monday denounced the South Korean government for taking an “indecisive attitude” towards the planned resumption of inter-Korean cooperation at the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) and Mount Kumgang.
The North Korean online outlet the Uriminzokkiri accused Seoul of “evading responsibility” on the issue of resuming inter-Korean economic projects by seeking U.S. approval for the plans.
Seoul has suggested the reopening of the KIC and the Mountain Kumgang tourism can only take place after “persuading the U.S.,” the outlet said, and by insisting that it will seek an exemption from international sanctions before the projects go ahead.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in his New Year’s speech said Pyongyang was willing to resume the joint work at the KIC and tourism at Mount Kumgang “without any precondition and in return for nothing.”
South Korean President Moon Jae-in then welcomed Kim’s suggestion at a news conference, adding that he believed the conditions have already been met to push ahead with the resumption of the two inter-Korean economic projects.
Moon, however, said that the ROK government will cooperate with the international community, including the U.S., to resolve pending issues such as sanctions “as soon as possible.”
Uriminzokkiri in response on Monday condemned the ROK President’s comments, though did not name the South Korean leader.
“The South Korean authorities consistently stick to the irresponsible attitude of evading the responsibility in reality while clamoring for the implementation of the inter-Korean declarations with just words,” the outlet said. “(This attitude) disregards the principle of national independence and self-determination stated in the North-South Korean declarations…”
Seoul’s attempt to resolve inter-Korean issues by “sponging off a foreign power,” it continued, is an “act of self-destruction.”
“The entire nation cannot repress its disappointment over the South Korean authorities’ indecisive attitude of walking on eggshells around the U.S.”
The state media also criticized the position of the South Korean Ministry of National Defense (MND) towards plans to conduct joint military drills with the U.S. and deploy strategic assets on the peninsula.
The defense ministry has adhered to the stance that the two issues can be discussed without weakening the ROK-U.S combined defense posture, Uriminzokkiri said, denouncing it for its position that the “matter of expanding the alleviation of the military hostility to the entire Korean peninsula should be consulted with the U.S.”
In a separate article, Uriminzokkiri on Monday emphasized the KIC and the Mount Kumgang projects were a “symbol of reconciliation and cooperation between North and South Korea.”
Seoul’s attitude towards their reopening, it continued, served as a “touchstone of its determination to implement inter-Korean declarations.”
The North Korean outlet called on Seoul and Pyongyang to “take greater steps” to build on achievements made last year, calling for the two to overcome the “hindrances and difficulties” that might emerge.
“There is intervention from external forces which are inconsistent with the national reconciliation, unity, cooperation, and exchanges,” Uriminzokkiri said.
“The historical North-South Korean declarations were not approved by anyone before we adopted them, and inter-Korean relations will not advance by even one step if being swayed by a foreign power.”
Sunday also saw another state-run online media, the DPRK Today, release a commentary criticizing Seoul’s “irresolute stance” on the resumption of the KIC and the Mount Kumgang tourism.
Without mentioning the name of the South Korean President, the outlet said Moon’s comments on the need to consult the international community were “discouraging.”
“What is the relation between South Korean people’s wish to visit and see the nation’s famous mountain and the foreign power’s sanctions?”
The North Korean media also criticized Seoul for holding off on providing approval that would allow a group of ex-KIC businessmen to visit the plant.
Though the group of businesspeople originally wanted to visit Kaesong city on January 16, the South Korean Ministry of Unification (MOU) has deferred the permission.
MOU deputy spokesperson Lee Eugene on Friday explained that the South Korean government has been sharing the details on the visit with Washington, stressing that it will continue bilateral consultation through various channels.
“This is because the sense of following the foreign power is more dominant than one of national independence in the head of the South Korean authorities,” DPRK Today said on Sunday. “It is high time to run toward the development of inter-Korean relations at an accelerated speed.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: Wikimedia Commons