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Summary of inter-Korean news this week

All Headlines 16:00 July 26, 2019

SEOUL, July 26 (Yonhap) -- The following is a summary of inter-Korean news this week.

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N. Korean defectors' group sends anti-Pyongyang leaflets across border

SEOUL, July 22 (Yonhap) -- A group of North Korean defectors said Monday that it has sent anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border, denouncing the North's leader, Kim Jong-un, as "the most brutal hereditary dictator in the 21st century."

The group, Fighters for a Free North Korea, flew 20 balloons carrying 500,000 leaflets from Yeoncheon, north of Seoul, to the North on Saturday, it said.

The balloons carried leaflets denouncing Kim, as well as 2,000 one-dollar bills, 1,000 USB drives and 500 booklets.

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Minister says discussion needed for inter-Korean maritime cooperation

SEOUL, July 22 (Yonhap) -- Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul on Monday called for follow-up discussions on maritime cooperation between South and North Korea amid limited progress in cross-border projects.

Kim made the remark in a congratulatory speech at an opening ceremony of an exposition on the seas around North Korea. He was referring to the Panmunjom declaration signed between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in April last year and a military agreement signed by the two Koreas in September.

Under the agreements, the two sides decided to turn the areas around the Northern Limit Line, a de facto maritime border, into a "peace zone" and set up a joint fishing area. They also conducted research into waterways to enable joint use of the Han River estuary along their western border.

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N. Korea refusing to accept Seoul's food aid over allies' joint military drill

SEOUL, July 24 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is refusing to accept food assistance from South Korea, citing Seoul's planned joint military exercise with the United States, a unification ministry official said Wednesday.

The North delivered the message during its working-level talks with the World Food Programme (WFP), through which Seoul intended to deliver the promised 50,000 tons of rice.

"It is true that this message has been delivered in the course of working-level discussions (between the North and the WFP)," the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

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2 S. Koreans held in N. Korea after fishing vessel drifts in East Sea

SEOUL, July 24 (Yonhap) -- Two South Koreans are being held in North Korea after their fishing vessel drifted into the North's waters last week due to an engine malfunction, a unification ministry official said Wednesday.

The South Korean men, in their 50s and 60s, respectively, were taken to the North, along with 15 Russian crew members, on the Russian-flagged Xiang Hai Lin 8 on July 17, according to the official.

The 300-ton vessel had left the South's northeastern port of Sokcho for the port of Zarubino in Russia's Far East the previous day, he said.

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Seoul keeps eye on situation as tensions escalate over N.K. missiles

SEOUL, July 25 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will keep a close watch on the latest developments on the Korean Peninsula, a unification ministry official said Thursday, as uncertainty has grown over the prospect of inter-Korean relations with the North's firing of short-range missiles.

Earlier in the morning, North Korea launched two short-range missiles into the East Sea. It came less than three months after the North test-fired short-range missiles.

"There seems to be a need to watch the situation closely," the ministry official said on the condition of anonymity, without giving further comments.

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N. Korea fires 2 new short-range missiles into East Sea: JCS

SEOUL, July 25 (Yonhap) -- North Korea on Thursday fired two apparently new short-range missiles toward the East Sea in what appears to be a move to put pressure on the United States ahead of Pyongyang's possible nuclear talks with Washington.

"North Korea fired one short-range missile at around 5:34 a.m. and the other at 5:57 a.m., from Hodo Peninsula near its eastern coastal town of Wonsan into the East Sea," the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.

One missile flew around 430 kilometers and the other traveled around 690 km, a JCS officer said, adding that both flew at an altitude of around 50 km.

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Seoul expresses 'strong concerns' over N. Korea's ballistic missile launches

SEOUL, July 25 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's top security officials expressed "strong concerns" Thursday over North Korea's firing of two projectiles that they believed to be a new type of short-range ballistic missile.

The North launched the missiles from its east coast in the morning in an apparent show of displeasure over the planned South Korea-U.S. military exercise, which it warned would affect the resumption of its working-level nuclear talks with the United States.

The presidential National Security Council (NSC) tentatively concluded that the missiles were "a new kind of short-range ballistic missile," Cheong Wa Dae said in a press release.

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Seoul keeps eye on situation as tensions escalate over N.K. missiles

SEOUL, July 25 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will keep a close watch on the latest developments on the Korean Peninsula, a unification ministry official said Thursday, as uncertainty has grown over the prospects for inter-Korean relations with the North's firing of short-range missiles.

Earlier in the morning, North Korea launched two short-range missiles into the East Sea. It came less than three months after the North test-fired short-range missiles.

"There seems to be a need to watch the situation closely," the ministry official said on the condition of anonymity, without giving further comments.

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DMZ hiking trail to open in Paju next month

SEOUL, July 26 (Yonhap) -- South Korea said Friday it will open the third and last hiking trail along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas next month.

The western section of the DMZ trail in Paju, 30 kilometers northwest of Seoul, will be available to the public under the DMZ Peace Trail program starting Aug. 10, according to the government.

The DMZ, which is about 250 km long and 4 km wide, is one of the world's most heavily fortified borders, with the rival Koreas technically in a state of war as the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
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