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Unification ministry slashes staff, budget after N.K.'s liaison office demolition

All News 16:40 October 19, 2020

SEOUL, Oct. 19 (Yonhap) -- The unification ministry has cut back on the number of staff at the inter-Korean liaison office and the budget for next year, after North Korea blew up the office building in June, an opposition lawmaker said Monday.

The ministry has slashed its budget for the liaison office next year to 310 million Korean won (US$270,000), from 6.41 billion won allocated for this year, Rep. Cho Tae-yong of the main opposition People Power Party said, citing data from the ministry.

The number of staff members at the now-demolished office in the North's border city of Kaesong was reduced to the minimum level at 15 officials from the previous 29.

The liaison office opened in September 2018 to support inter-Korean exchanges and cooperation after a summit agreement between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in April that year.

Liaison officers of the two sides communicated through telephone and fax lines established between Seoul and Pyongyang until early June when the North severed all communication channels with the South and blew up the joint liaison office in anger over anti-Pyongyang leaflets.

Pyongyang has also remained unresponsive to Seoul's repeated calls for exchanges and cooperation, including joint efforts against the coronavirus and a probe into the North's killing of a South Korean fisheries official in late September.

This photo, taken from the South Korean border city of Paju on July 1, 2020, shows the demolished inter-Korean liaison office in the North Korean border town of Kaesong after the North blew up the building on June 16. (Yonhap)

julesyi@yna.co.kr
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