N.Korea Turns up Nose at S.Korean Food Aid Offer

  • By Yoon Hyung-jun

    May 28, 2019 13:23

    A North Korean participant in cross-border talks last week dismissed an offer from Seoul of food aid for the renegade country, saying it is "not a fundamental solution to the stalemate in inter-Korean relations."

    The remarks were made by a South Korean participant, Han Chun-mok, in a press briefing on Monday after representatives of the two sides met in the Chinese city of Shenyang last Thursday.

    North Korean participants instead urged the South Koreans to implement joint-Korean declarations and dismissed humanitarian aid as a secondary issue. Seoul made the offer after North Korea last month begged the international community for food aid although there are no clear signs of a shortage.

    According to Han, the North Koreans said humanitarian aid should not bypass "fundamental issues" that froze inter-Korean ties again earlier this year. That mainly seems to mean that North Korea wants the South to do more to ease international sanctions.

    Most of the agreements between the two Koreas signed since the first cross-border summit in 2000 are now obsolete, but North Korea likes to dig them up whenever it feels it can pressure a South Korean government that has votes to win from friendly ties with Pyongyang.

    The North Koreans also complained about a planned visit by South Korean manufacturers to the shuttered joint-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex to check on their equipment there.

    Amid reports that the North has been stealing equipment to manufacture clothing on its own, the North Koreans said they do not want an inspection but reopening of the industrial park. They also claimed that the planned inspection "is incompatible" with inter-Korean agreements.

    The talks were originally scheduled to last until Sunday, but the North Koreans canceled the remainder of the schedule after Thursday's contretemps.

    Asked whether the two Koreas should jointly host events in Pyongyang on June 15 to mark the anniversary of the first inter-Korean summit in 2000, the North Korean delegates said they would "consider" the suggestion to see if "circumstances are appropriate."

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