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(LEAD) N.K. tirades may indicate dismay over sanctions, lack of progress in cross-border exchanges

All Headlines 15:52 July 22, 2018

(ATTN: ADDS more info in last 3 paras)

SEOUL, July 22 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's recent series of tirades against South Korea appear to indicate its discomfort over Seoul's adherence to the international sanctions regime and a lack of progress in cross-border exchanges, analysts in Seoul said Sunday.

From discounting South Korean President Moon Jae-in's recent remarks on peace efforts as "useless instructions" to slamming his economic policy, the Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the North's ruling Workers' Party, has sharpened its rhetoric.

However, it showed signs of restraint as it refrained from directly calling the president by his name and issued statements under the pen name of a private person rather than attributing them to a government organ.

In a commentary on Friday, the newspaper criticized Moon's recent lecture in Singapore where he warned that U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un might face "grave judgment" should they fail to deliver on their June 12 summit agreement, including working toward the "complete denuclearization" of the peninsula.

"(We) cannot help but evaluate (the lecture) as consistent prejudices marked by blindness to the reality and subjectivity, stubbornness that disregarded the process which gave rise to a result, and a showy admonishment," the paper said.

On Sunday, the newspaper criticized the South's economic situation, pessimistically depicting it.

"Amid the impact of the economic crisis in the South, entrepreneurs of small and medium-sized companies, and many people suffering economic problems are cursing the social reality and committing suicide," it said.

Such criticism has stoked fears of a negative impact on Seoul's push to improve cross-border ties, reduce military tensions and achieve Pyongyang's denuclearization.

Analysts said that the North might have used the media to underscore its displeasure over Seoul's continued cooperation in maintaining the global sanctions and the slow pace of inter-Korean cooperation projects, such as connecting railways.

"We can construe the North's recent behavior as a continued expression of its discomfort over the Moon government cooperating with the international community's sanctions regime," said Lim Eul-chul, a professor at Kyungnam University's Far East Institute.

Some said that the criticism might be part of efforts to curb North Koreans' growing expectations about the possible spoils of cross-border exchanges.

Meanwhile, the North's media renewed its call for the repatriation of its restaurant workers who defected here years ago, warning that the issue could pose a hurdle to the planned reunions of families separated since the 1950-53 Korean War. The reunions are set to take place from Aug. 20-26 at the scenic mountain of Kumgang on the North's east coast.

In a commentary on Saturday, the Rodong Sinmun said the issue could negatively affect the reunions and inter-Korean relations as well.

Twelve North Korean women, who were working at a restaurant in the eastern Chinese city of Ningbo, came to the South in April 2016. The group defection has been causing controversy, with the North calling it "abductions." Adding to the dispute is the claim that some of them were duped into coming to the South.


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