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Summary of inter-Korean news this week

All News 16:00 July 03, 2020

SEOUL, July 3 (Yonhap) -- The following is a summary of inter-Korean news this week.

Police search offices of defector groups at center of anti-Pyongyang leafleting

SEOUL, June 26 (Yonhap) -- Police on Friday raided two offices related to a North Korean defector who has been at the center of the anti-Pyongyang leafleting campaign, which the South Korean government views as a breach of law and the North has vehemently denounced.

With a court-issued search and seizure warrant, officers from the Seoul Metropolitan Police combed the office of Park Sang-hak, the head of Fighters for a Free North Korea, and the office of Kuensaem, another anti-North Korea activist group run by Park's younger brother, Jung-oh. Police also looked into Park's vehicle and mobile phone in search of evidence.

The search operation, which initially met with strong opposition from the two group's officials, lasted for seven hours from 10 a.m.

Gov't holds hearing on defector groups over anti-N.K. leafleting

SEOUL, June 29 (Yonhap) -- The unification ministry held a hearing on Monday to give two North Korean defector groups a final chance to explain themselves before going ahead with a decision to revoke their operation permits for sending propaganda leaflets into the North.

The hearing came weeks after the ministry decided to file a criminal complaint with police against Fighters for a Free North Korea and Kuensaem and revoke their business permits for their sending of leaflets into the North.

"We held a hearing today on Fighters for a Free North Korea and Kuensaem," the ministry said in a release. "After checking whether there are any additional documents they need to submit, we will proceed with revocation and other related procedures."

Police question defector brothers over anti-Pyongyang leafleting

SEOUL, June 30 (Yonhap) -- Police on Tuesday called in North Korean defector brothers over their groups' anti-North Korea leafleting campaign, which Seoul views as a breach of law and Pyongyang vehemently criticizes.

Park Sang-hak, head of Fighters for a Free North Korea, and his younger brother Jung-oh, who leads another defector group, Kuensaem, showed up for questioning at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency at 9:20 a.m.

Police were trying to determine whether the brothers' campaign has breached the inter-Korea exchange and cooperation act.

Moon's adviser urges N.K. to explain demolition of Kaesong liaison office

SEOUL, June 30 (Yonhap) -- North Korea should offer an explanation about its demolition of an inter-Korean liaison office building, a special adviser to President Moon Jae-in said Tuesday, urging the communist state to change course and return to talks.

Moon Chung-in, special adviser for diplomatic and security affairs, made the remark during a peace forum hosted by Yonhap News Agency, stressing that the liaison office was built as a symbol of inter-Korean reconciliation and peace.

"The Kaesong liaison office doesn't mean just its financial value of 17 billion won (US$1.42 million). The liaison office was built with taxpayer money of South Koreans as a symbol of inter-Korean reconciliation and peace," Moon said during a keynote speech at the forum.

Number of incoming N. Korean defectors hits all-time low in Q2: unification ministry

SEOUL, July 1 (Yonhap) -- The number of North Korean defectors coming into South Korea recorded an all-time low in the second quarter this year due to the new coronavirus, the unification ministry said Wednesday.

According to the ministry, 12 defectors were estimated to have entered the country from April to June this year, marking the lowest figure since 2003 when the ministry began to tally the number of incoming defectors by quarter.

The figure represents a 96 percent drop from the same period last year when 320 North Korean defectors entered the South.

FM says S. Korea, U.S. discussed concerns over 'working group' operation amid N.K. criticism

SEOUL, July 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United States discussed ways to improve the operation of the bilateral "working group" forum set up to coordinate North Korea policy, Seoul's top diplomat said Thursday, after Pyongyang condemned the forum as a key hindrance to inter-Korean cooperation.

The South's top nuclear envoy, Lee Do-hoon, discussed the issue when he visited Washington last month for talks with his U.S. counterpart, Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, and other American officials, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said.

Lee's trip came shortly after the North blew up an inter-Korean liaison office, and Kim Yo-jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, strongly criticized Seoul for failing to pursue inter-Korean cooperation independently of the U.S. while citing the working group as a key example of such "deep-rooted flunkeyism."

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