S. Korea seeks law revision to bolster inter-Korean exchanges, cooperation
By Koh Byung-joon
SEOUL, May 26 (Yonhap) -- South Korea is pushing to revise a law governing inter-Korean exchanges to expand the scope of cooperation and provide more autonomy for municipalities to execute cross-border projects, the unification ministry said Tuesday.
South Korea enacted the "South-North Exchange and Cooperation Law" in 1990 as part of efforts to provide legal grounds for exchanges and cooperation with the North. Demand has since grown for a revision to reflect changed global situations and inter-Korean relations.
"Since its enactment, the law has served as legal grounds to push for exchanges and cooperation between the South and the North, which had been regarded as belonging to the realm of acts of a state," the ministry said.
"The revision is aimed at expanding the scope of contact and stipulating municipalities as one of the major players in cooperative projects between the South and the North," the ministry added.
The move comes as South Korea is trying to expand cross-border exchanges as inter-Korean relations has been almost stalled amid little progress in denuclearization talks between Pyongyang and Washington.
With almost all state-level exchanges coming to a halt, the South Korean government has sought to bolster cooperation with the North through municipalities and civilian groups.
Last year, the government allowed municipalities to independently seek assistance projects for North Korea. Previously, they had to team up with the central government to carry out such projects.
The ministry said it has collected opinions from experts until recently for the envisioned law revision. It also plans to hold a public hearing this week as part of efforts to collect views of the general public.
The public hearing will be held Wednesday online in consideration of lingering concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. The online channel for the hearing will remain open until Thursday to gather public opinions, the ministry said.
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