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Summary of inter-Korean news this week

All News 17:25 February 21, 2020

SEOUL, Feb. 21 (Yonhap) -- The following is a summary of inter-Korean news this week.

N.K. media slams S. Korea's reliance on U.S. over individual tourism

SEOUL, Feb. 16 (Yonhap) -- A North Korean propaganda outlet mentioned for the first time South Korea's push to allow its citizens to travel to the communist nation on an individual basis, accusing Seoul of trying to win U.S. approval for the initiative.

Seoul has been working on the idea of individual trips since President Moon Jae-in cited it last month as a possible cross-border project that could be pursued to expand exchanges and cooperation with the North without violating international sanctions on Pyongyang.

Pyongyang had remained mum on the issue until the North's propaganda outlet DRPK Today lashed out at Seoul for failing to push for such a cross-border issue on its own in the first ever mention of the proposal by the North's official media or propaganda outlets.

N. Korea keeps mum on letter urging reopening of Kaesong

SEOUL, Feb. 17 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has not given any response to a letter from an association of South Korean businesspeople calling for reopening the shuttered inter-Korean industrial complex in Kaesong, the unification ministry said Monday.

Marking the fourth anniversary of the closure of the Kaesong Industrial Complex, the association of businesspeople who once operated factories there held a rally in Seoul last Monday and urged the government to do everything to reopen the factory park.

They also asked the ministry to deliver the North a letter urging Pyongyang to allow businesspeople to visit the industrial complex to prepare for the resumption of its operation. Officials said the contents of the letter and its purpose were explained verbally through the joint liaison office Wednesday.

N.K. defectors to form first-ever political party ahead of April elections

SEOUL, Feb. 18 (Yonhap) -- North Korean defectors launched a preparatory committee Tuesday to establish the first-ever political party composed of defectors in South Korea, saying the envisioned party will work for democratization of their communist homeland and better protection of defectors' rights.

Around 200 North Korean defectors came together at the meeting in Seoul to announce the launch of the party tentatively named the Inter-Korean Unification Party, less than two months before the April 15 parliamentary elections.

"I am here today to support the big challenge of fellow North Koreans and to congratulate the launch of the new party of North Korean defectors," Thae Yong-ho, a former No. 2 diplomat at North Korea's Embassy in London, said in his congratulatory speech at the meeting.

S. Korea to consider support for N. Korea's anti-virus fight if int'l agencies make requests

SEOUL, Feb. 19 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will consider international agencies' requests for assistance in efforts to help North Korea with coronavirus quarantine measures if official requests come from aid groups, the unification ministry said Wednesday.

North Korea has repeatedly claimed there hasn't been an outbreak of the COVID-19 infection on its soil but reportedly asked for outside help in its nationwide preventive efforts against the highly contagious virus.

"If there is an official request, the government will look into it," Yoh Sang-key, the ministry's spokesperson, told a regular press briefing in response to a question whether the government is willing to provide anti-virus aid to the North via international agencies.

N.K. propaganda media accuses Moon of 'subservient' attitude to U.S.

SEOUL, Feb. 19 (Yonhap) -- A North Korean propaganda media outlet slammed South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday over his recent remarks of emphasizing the importance of the alliance with the United States, accusing him of having a "subservient" attitude, begging for outside help to resolve inter-Korean matters.

On Feb. 8, Moon said that the alliance with the U.S. is essential to maintaining peace and freedom on the Korean Peninsula in a video message during a reception of the U.S. National Governors Association (NGA) at South Korea's embassy in Washington.

Moon added that Seoul-Washington ties have evolved into a "great alliance" that goes beyond the area of security into economic and global cooperation. He called each governor a "dependable bridge that enables dynamic exchanges" between the allies.

S. Korea watching N.K. economy over negative effects of coronavirus outbreaks in China

SEOUL, Feb. 20 (Yonhap) -- South Korea is watching North Korea's economy amid reports that prices in the impoverished nation have risen after Pyongyang shut down the borders with China to prevent the coronavirus from entering the country, an official said Thursday.

"We are aware of media reports citing some sources that the prices of rice and other certain commodities have risen in North Korea, but I think we need more time to assess the overall prices," a unification ministry official said.

Pyongyang has tightened its borders with China since late January in an effort to prevent the new deadly coronavirus from spreading into the country. China accounts for around 90 percent of the North's external trade.

Pro-N. Korea paper calls 'Parasite' a masterpiece laying bare class warfare

SEOUL, Feb. 21 (Yonhap) -- A pro-North Korea newspaper in Japan reported on Friday about Oscars-winning "Parasite," calling the South Korean movie a "masterpiece" laying bare the problem of class warfare.

It is the first time that a North Korea-affiliated media outlet has mentioned the movie since it won four Oscars last week, including best picture and best director.

"It is noteworthy that the masterpiece rose to the top in the American and white-dominated movie community and the world's most renowned Academy by clearly revealing the reality in which a small number of the wealthy dominates the absolute majority," the Choson Sinbo, a pro-North Korea newspaper in Japan, said.

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