June 14, 2019 10:13
The Unification Ministry has erased the audio from video footage of a meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's sister Yo-jong and senior South Korean government officials on Wednesday.
The ministry banned reporters from covering the meeting citing the threat of African swine fever contamination and difficulties arranging entry passes for the demilitarized zone. Instead, the ministry promised to film the meeting and publish the footage.
North Korea sent Kim Yo-jong to Panmunjom on Wednesday to deliver a wreath and letter of condolence from her brother for the funeral of former first lady Lee Hee-ho.
At North Korea's insistence, the government sent national security adviser Chung Eui-yong, Vice Unification Minister Suh Ho and Park Jie-won, a vice chairman of the Kim Dae-jung Peace Center, to pick them up.
The meeting lasted about 15 minutes, but the Unification Ministry only provided a couple of minutes of silent footage showing Chung arriving at the border truce village and later chatting with Kim. The last 28 seconds consist of a close-up of the wreath.
Asked if North Korea insisted on the audio being muted, a Unification Ministry official said Thursday, "I believe North Korea has nothing to do with it. It was just an internal matter."
The official admitted that the ministry did not deal with the matter "responsibly," suggesting that there was pressure from Cheong Wa Dae to delete the audio. The official also said he could not provide the original footage.
According to Park, Kim said she was surprised to learn that the South's national security adviser, a minister-level official, was coming to pick up the wreath. A former Unification Ministry official said, "The fact that the ministry hid the audio shows that the conversation was about something that can't be revealed or was unexpected."
The government has been criticized for bending over backwards to receive the wreath and now faces allegations of media censorship.
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com