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Summary of inter-Korean news this week

All News 16:00 March 06, 2020

SEOUL, March 6 (Yonhap) -- The following is a summary of inter-Korean news this week.

Moon says Korea can overcome COVID-19 crisis, makes overtures to N. Korea, Japan

SEOUL, March 1 (Yonhap)-- President Moon Jae-in called Sunday for national unity in a fight against the new coronavirus in line with the spirit of a historic independence movement a century earlier and suggested close international cooperation against such an unconventional threat, including partnerships with North Korea.

"The March 1 Independence Movement once again reminds us that we can prevail over anything as long as we stand together," he said in a televised speech to commemorate the 1919 public uprising here against Japan's colonial rule. "All the people will come together and overcome even today's crisis without fail."

While Moon was present at the scaled-down official ceremony held at Paiwha Girls' High School near his office Cheong Wa Dae, South Korea's health authorities announced a sharp rise in the number of confirmed case. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) put the number at 3,526, up 376 from the day earlier.

S. Korean ministers voice strong concern about N. Korean military's continued 'strike drills'

SEOUL, March 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's security-related ministers expressed "strong concern" Monday about the continued "combined strike drills" by North Korea's armed forces, hours after the launch of two "short-range" unidentified projectiles by the communist neighbor.

They urged Pyongyang to halt such acts, which are "not helpful to efforts to ease military tensions on the Korean Peninsula," Cheong Wa Dae said in a press statement on the results of an emergency videoconferencing session that was presided over by Chung Eui-yong, director of national security at the presidential office.

Among the attendees were Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo and National Intelligence Service chief Suh Hoon.

S. Korea to make preparations to expand health care cooperation with N.K. amid coronavirus spread

SEOUL, March 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will make preparations to expand anti-epidemic cooperation with North Korea, the unification ministry said Monday, a day after President Moon Jae-in called for inter-Korean health care cooperation amid the global spread of the new coronavirus.

"Our government will prepare for inter-Korean cooperation in health care, prevention of diseases, natural disasters, climate change and other fields when conditions are ripe," Yoh Sang-key, the ministry's spokesperson, said in a regular press briefing earlier in the day.

On Sunday, Moon proposed health care cooperation with the North in an address commemorating the 1919 Independence Movement, saying the Korean people would be "safer" when the two sides respond together to infectious diseases and disasters in border areas as well as climate change on the Korean Peninsula.

Unification ministry vows to seek health care cooperation with N.K.

SEOUL, March 3 (Yonhap) -- The unification ministry vowed Tuesday to seek cooperation with North Korea to tackle the new coronavirus and other infectious diseases.

Healthcare cooperation was a key focus of the ministry's annual policy plan reported to the office of President Moon Jae-in. The plan was reported in writing, without a face-to-face session, due to coronavirus concerns.

The ministry also pledged to seek other reconciliation and exchange projects with the North, such as individual trips to the communist nation and a proposal to transform the demilitarized zone (DMZ) into a peace zone.

Cheong Wa Dae scrutinizing Kim Yo-jong's statement in 'prudent' response: official

SEOUL, March 4 (Yonhap) -- The office of President Moon Jae-in is "prudently" analyzing the first reported statement by Kim Yo-jong, an influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, against South Korea, an official here said Wednesday.

Cheong Wa Dae has no plan to respond formally to her scathing written criticism of Moon's office, according to the official.

"We have no comment to give" on the issue, with an analysis of the statement under way "internally," the official said on the customary condition of anonymity.

Unification ministry urges 'mutual respect' following N.K.'s strong criticism of presidential office

SEOUL, March 4 (Yonhap) -- South and North Korea should respect each other, the unification ministry said Wednesday, after the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un issued a strongly worded statement criticizing Seoul for complaining about Pyongyang's recent projectile launches.

In the statement issued Tuesday night, Kim Yo-jong heaped scorn on South Korea's presidential office over its expression of regret over Pyongyang's firings of projectiles a day earlier and its demand for a stop to such tension-raising activities.

North Korea fired what were presumed to be two projectiles from its eastern coastal city of Wonsan on Monday, the first of such launches in around three months and the first since it threatened earlier this year to showcase a "new strategic weapon" in the near future.

N. Korean media accuses S. Korean movies, dramas of anti-republic fabrication

SEOUL, March 4 (Yonhap) -- North Korean state media on Wednesday slammed South Korean movies and dramas for engaging in "anti-republic" propaganda with fakes and fabrication about the communist state.

Uriminzokkiri did not specify its targets for criticism, but they might include such recent hits as TV drama "Crash Landing On You" and blockbuster movie "Ashfall."

"Crash Landing On You" is a love story between a daughter of a South Korean business tycoon and a North Korean solider. It paints North Korea as a poor and economically backward country.

S. Korea denies sending masks to N. Korea

SEOUL, March 5 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has denied local news reports that it has provided masks to North Korea to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

A local TV station carried the report with video footage showing a medical worker in North Korea wearing a dental mask with the logo of a South Korean brand. The report sparked speculation that the government may have delivered South Korean masks to the North.

"The government has not provided any masks to North Korea regarding the coronavirus situation, and no nongovernmental organization from South Korea has applied for the delivery of masks to assist the North," Yoh Sang-key, the unification ministry's spokesperson, said in a press briefing.

N.K. leader sends letter to Moon to support S. Korea's fight against coronavirus

SEOUL, March 5 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has sent a personal letter to President Moon Jae-in to express his support for South Korea to overcome the outbreak of the new coronavirus, Cheong Wa Dae said Thursday.

In the letter, delivered to Moon on Wednesday, Chairman Kim consoled South Koreans fighting the virus and wished for their good health, according to Yoon Do-han, Cheong Wa Dae's senior secretary for public communication.

"The North's leader said he will quietly support South Korea's fight against COVID-19 and showed his constant friendship and trust toward Moon," Yoon said, adding that Kim expressed concerns about Moon's health.

No request from N.K. for cooperation in coronavirus fight: unification ministry

SEOUL, March 6 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has not made any request for help in tackling the new coronavirus and other infectious diseases, the unification ministry said Friday, denying a news report that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made such a request in a letter to President Moon Jae-in.

The Chosun Ilbo, a major South Korean daily, reported earlier in the day that seeking anti-epidemic cooperation with South Korea was one of the main points of Kim's letter and Moon responded that health care cooperation with the North is always possible.

The presidential office Cheong Wae Dae had said the previous day that Kim wished Moon and other South Koreans good health and expressed support for the South's combat against the fast spreading COVID-19 outbreak.

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