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Summary of inter-Korean news this week

All News 16:00 February 14, 2020

SEOUL, Feb. 14 (Yonhap) -- The following is a summary of inter-Korean news this week.

Unification minister reaffirms need to push for inter-Korean exchanges

SEOUL, Feb. 9 (Yonhap) -- Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul on Sunday reaffirmed the need to push for inter-Korean cooperation in railways, roads and tourism, as South Korea seeks to expand cross-border exchanges as part of efforts to continue its engagement with North Korea.

"We will continue to seek ways to expand cross-border relations in the fields of tourism, which North Korea has been focusing on, and railways and roads that connect land and sea, as well as the two Koreas, in the Demilitarized Zone and border areas," Kim told a forum in the eastern provincial county of PyeongChang.

PyeongChang hosted the Winter Olympic Games in early 2018, an event that paved the way for detente between Seoul and Pyongyang that eventually led to a series of historic inter-Korean summits and summit talks between the North and the United States.

Individual tourism to N. Korea not subject to consultations with U.S.: ministry

SEOUL, Feb. 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's push to allow its citizens to go on tours to North Korea on an individual basis is not subject to consultations with the United States as such tourism is not banned under U.N. sanctions, the unification ministry said Monday.

South Korea and the U.S. held a "working-level" meeting in Seoul on Monday to coordinate their policy toward North Korea at which such issues as individual trips to the North were expected to be addressed. Deputy Special Representative for North Korea Policy Alex Wong arrived in Seoul for the meeting Sunday.

Seoul has worked on allowing individual trips to the North to move stalled inter-Korean relations forward amid a protracted stalemate in denuclearization talks between Washington and Pyongyang. Seoul says that such trips do not violate global sanctions.

Seoul stresses need to reopen Kaesong complex

SEOUL, Feb. 10 (Yonhap) -- The shuttered inter-Korean industrial complex in North Korea's border city of Kaesong must reopen to help bring lasting peace to the Korean Peninsula, the unification ministry said Monday, marking the fourth anniversary of the closure of the factory park.

In 2016, Seoul closed the Kaesong Industrial Complex in retaliation against the North's fourth nuclear test. Efforts to resume the complex since then have made little progress amid a protracted stalemate in denuclearization talks.

"The government maintains the position that it is certainly necessary to resume the Kaesong Industrial Complex as a means to improve inter-Korean relations and to build lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula," Yoh Sang-key, the ministry's spokesperson, said in a regular press briefing.

High-profile N. Korean defector to run in S. Korea's spring election: party

SEOUL, Feb. 10 (Yonhap) -- Thae Yong-ho, a former North Korean diplomat who defected to South Korea in 2016, plans to run in the April 15 general elections here as a member of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP), a party official announced Monday.

Kim Hyong-o, head of the LKP's election candidate selection panel, said Thae has joined the conservative party for a race in a Seoul constituency and not in pursuit of a National Assembly seat from proportional representation.

"I think he would probably be the first North Korean defector" who is engaged in an electoral competition in a South Korean constituency, Kim said.

N.K. denounces S. Korea's main opposition party for recruiting defector for elections

SEOUL, Feb. 13 (Yonhap) -- A North Korean propaganda outlet lashed out at South Korea's main opposition party on Thursday over its decision to enlist a North Korean defector, known for his appearance at a U.S. State of the Union address, ahead of April's general elections.

Last month, the Liberty Korea Party (LKP) announced its decision to recruit Ji Seong-ho as one of the new faces who will run for the April 15 parliamentary elections. Ji is known for his surprise appearance at U.S. President Donald Trump's State of the Union speech in 2018.

As Trump introduced Ji during the address, Ji triumphantly held up his crutches, drawing a standing ovation. He is believed to have lost an arm and a leg in a train accident in 1996 when he passed out on a railway due to starvation after attempting to steal coal. He defected to the South in 2006.

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