SEOUL, Jan. 14 (Yonhap) -- North Korean propaganda outlets called for full-scale economic cooperation with South Korea on Monday, with one of them claiming the South's economy would be better off now if it had pushed strongly for cross-border exchanges.
"Active efforts should be made to expand and advance North-South cooperation and exchanges in all aspects," Uriminzokkiri, a propaganda website, said in an article. "It is none other than our people who will benefit from cooperation and exchanges between North and South Korea."
The website took note of cross-border projects that unfolded last year in such areas as the railway, forestry and health sectors, saying those efforts served as a vehicle for reconciliation and solidarity between the Koreas despite "brutal obstruction" from the outside.
It urged the Koreas to stand up to sanctions and pressure, and emphasized that "no challenges and difficulties lying ahead will not be able to block our way toward prosperity of our people."
Meari, another propaganda outlet, called for stepped-up economic cooperation between the Koreas, saying that suspension in cross-border economic projects for about 10 years had a devastating impact on South Korean businesses and people.
"Had inter-Korean economic cooperation been pushed actively, the South's economy would not be in a devastating state as it is today," it said.
North Korea is demanding sanctions on its regime be eased or lifted in return for what it claims to be substantive denuclearization steps since its June summit with the United States. Washington says sanctions will remain in place until it completely gives up its nuclear weapons program.
In his New Year's Day address, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un warns of taking a different path if the U.S. clings to sanctions. He expressed a willingness to resume the operations of a joint industrial park in the North's border town of Kaesong and a tour program to Mount Kumgang on its east coast without preconditions.
Last week, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said that the challenges lying between the two Koreas with regard to the two suspended projects have been resolved, saying that he will closely coordinate with the international community to resume their operations.
The Kaesong industrial park was closed in 2016 after the North's nuclear and missile provocations. The Mount Kumgang tour program was halted in 2008 after a South Korean tourist was killed by a North Korean guard.
During their September summit, Moon and Kim agreed to "normalize" the operations of the two cross-border projects as soon as conditions are met, apparently pointing to the need to address the issue of sanctions before their resumption.
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