Pyongyang on Thursday issued an "open questionnaire" that demands answers from Seoul if relations between the two Koreas are to improve.
The official KCNA news agency said that the questionnaire came from the policy department of the National Defense Commission, which "solemnly urges" South Korea to answer it "since it loudly trumpets a resumption of inter-Korean dialogue and improvement of relations."
The questionnaire consists of nine questions. It asks whether Seoul can "feel deeply sorry and be determined to apologize" for having banned all but a handful of South Koreans from paying their respects after Kim Jong-il's death; whether it is willing to "officially express its intention at home and abroad to implement the joint declarations" adopted after the first and second inter-Korean summits in 2000 and 2007; and whether it will "declare to the world" that it no longer blames the North for the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in 2010.
It also demands Seoul suspend large-scale military exercises, suspend anti-North Korean propaganda campaigns, resume inter-Korean exchanges, and abolish the National Security Law.
"It's a pity that the North issued such an absurd statement for propaganda purposes," a Unification Ministry official said. "We don't think it necessary for the government to respond to each question."
Prof. Kim Yong-hyun of Dongguk University said the questionnaire bodes ill for inter-Korean relations. "Although the questionnaire looks as if the regime is urging Seoul to change its policy toward the North, it in fact made clear that it has no intention to improve relations with the Lee Myung-bak administration," he said.