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Summary of inter-Korean news this week

All News 16:00 May 15, 2020

SEOUL, May 15 (Yonhap) -- The following is a summary of inter-Korean news this week.

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Fake news about N. Korea causes distrust, impasse in inter-Korean relations: expert

SEOUL, May 11 (Yonhap) -- Unsubstantiated rumors and speculative media reports about North Korea could cause mutual distrust between the two Koreas and create an "impasse" in inter-Korean relations, an expert said Monday.

Kim Dong-yeop, a research professor at Kyungnam University's Institute for Far Eastern Studies, also called for more efforts to create "high-quality" and "trustworthy" information about the North so as to avoid the chaos the world experienced until recently due to unconfirmed reports about North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's health.

Speculative reports had swirled about Kim's health after he failed to show up at a key national event last month. CNN reported Kim could be in "grave danger after surgery," while some other media outlets went as far as saying that he was believed to be in a coma or already dead.

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Inter-Korean summit still possible within this year: Cheong Wa Dae

SEOUL, May 11 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in remains committed to pushing for another summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at an early date, Cheong Wa Dae said on Monday.

Speaking in an interview with Yonhap News TV, presidential spokesman Kang Min-seok stressed it's too early to rule out the possibility of the two holding their fourth summit within this year.

"Truly, it seems difficult at the moment, but we do not know what the variables will be in South-North relations. So we need to watch (what will happen)," he said.

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S. Korea to open cultural center to help defectors connect with community

SEOUL, May 12 (Yonhap) -- A new cultural center for promoting exchanges between North Korean defectors and the local community will open Wednesday with limited programs due to concerns over the coronavirus, the unification ministry said.

The Inter-Korean Cultural Integration Center, which was set to open in March, had been delayed amid the spread of COVID-19.

The ministry said the opening ceremony of the center, located in Seoul's Gangseo district, will be replaced by the online release of video clips of congratulatory messages from officials and celebrities on its website.

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N. Korea presumed to have replaced chief of military intelligence bureau

SEOUL, May 13 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is believed to have replaced the chief of its primary intelligence agency accused of a string of secret operations against South Korea, including the 2010 sinking of a warship, according to Seoul's latest who's who in Pyongyang's ruling elite.

Rim Kwang-il, an army general, replaced Jang Kil-song last December as head of the Reconnaissance General Bureau, the North's military intelligence agency, according to the who's who book, titled "Information on key figures in North Korea."

The agency is known for masterminding the 2010 torpedo attack on the South Korean naval corvette Cheonan that killed 46 sailors on board. Leading the agency at the time was Kim Yong-chol, a hawkish general who later served as the counterpart of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in nuclear negotiations.

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S. Korea secured 'decisive' evidence to believe N. Korea's DMZ gunfire accidental: sources

SEOUL, May 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has secured "decisive" evidence that North Korea's recent shooting at one of its guard posts across the border was not intentional, sources said Wednesday.

The assessment is in line with the United States' determination that the incident was "accidental."

On May 3, at least four bullets from the North hit the South's guard post at the central part of the Demilitarized Zone in Cheorwon prompting the South Korean troops to fire back, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

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NGO delivers hand sanitizers to N. Korea to help antivirus fight: official

SEOUL, May 14 (Yonhap) -- A non-profit organization has delivered hand sanitizers to North Korea as part of efforts to provide assistance for the country's fight against the coronavirus pandemic, a unification ministry official said Thursday.

It marked the first time this year the government has allowed a civilian group to provide aid to the North.

The hand sanitizers were handed over to the North earlier this month after the government approved the group's assistance plan in April to provide around 100 million won (US$81,400) worth of such items to the communist state, according to the official.

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N. Korea silent on proposal for joint event marking 20th summit anniversary

SEOUL, May 14 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has not yet responded to calls from South Korean nongovernmental organizations to hold a joint event to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the first-ever inter-Korean summit.

"In the beginning of this year, nongovernmental organizations proposed holding a joint event with North Korea, but the North has not responded yet," an official at the unification ministry told reporters Thursday.

The official added there are many challenges in organizing the event because of the coronavirus situation.
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