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Summary of inter-Korean news this week

All News 16:00 November 06, 2020

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

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S. Korea to launch 10-month ecological survey on Han River estuary this week

SEOUL, Nov. 1 (Yonhap) --- South Korea will launch an ecological survey on the Han River's estuary along the inter-Korean border this week as part of efforts to implement an agreement with North Korea to jointly use the now-restricted waterway, the unification ministry said Sunday.

The survey will start Monday for a 10-month run on about 80 square kilometers of wetland on the southern side of the Han River, near the western border between the two Koreas, to collect "in-depth" ecological and environmental data, according to the ministry.

"The estuary of the Han River has world-class value as an eco-belt between fresh water and seawater that has preserved outstanding biodiversity uninterrupted by human beings for a long time," the ministry said. "But it has been hard to figure out detailed conditions since it is located near the inter-Korean border."

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'Circumstantial' evidence suggests N. Korea's incineration of S. Korean official, military says

SEOUL, Nov. 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's military intelligence community told a parliamentary committee Monday that there are multiple pieces of circumstantial evidence indicating that the North Korean military incinerated the body of a South Korean fisheries official at sea in September.

Officials at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) under the defense ministry made the remarks during the annual National Assembly audit of its work, according to participants in the session.

"There are various other grounds," a DIA official was quoted as telling lawmakers in response to a question of whether there was more evidence aside from the military's initial claim to have witnessed the flames of the fire apparently burning his body for about 40 minutes. The North earlier stated that its border guards had burned a "floating material," not the official's body, when he drifted into its waters on the material across the inter-Korean sea boundary. The body remains unaccounted for.

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Kim Jong-un orders probe into recent shooting death of S. Korean official: spy agency

SEOUL, Nov. 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's state intelligence agency said Tuesday that there is circumstantial evidence indicating that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has ordered a probe into the military's fatal shooting in September of a South Korean fisheries official, according to lawmakers.

Officials from the National Intelligence Service (NIS) made the remarks during a parliamentary intelligence committee's regular audit session into the agency, lawmakers who attended the meeting said.

"According to intelligence, there are circumstantial signs of (North Korea) carrying out a search for the body (of the slain official)," one of the official was quoted as saying during the closed-door session.

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Minister calls for N. Korea to restore communications lines, liaison office

SEOUL/PANMUNJOM, Nov. 4 (Joint Press Corps-Yonhap) -- Unification Minister Lee In-young called Wednesday for North Korea to restore severed cross-border communications lines and resume the operation of a now-destructed joint liaison office to bring the stalled inter-Korean relations back on track.

Lee made the remarks in a speech at the opening ceremony for a tourism support center held at Panmunjom to mark the resumption of tours to the truce border village after more than a year of suspension caused by the spread of the African swine fever.

"I hope the communications line between the South's Freedom House and the North's Panmungak that remains unresponsive will be restored," Lee said. "I also hope the South-North joint liaison office will be restored swiftly and surely and put back in operation."

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N.K. man captured after crossing inter-Korean border in suspected defection bid

SEOUL, Nov. 4 (Yonhap) -- A North Korean man was taken into custody after crossing into South Korea via the eastern border, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said Wednesday, amid a possibility that he could have sought to defect to the South.

The man, whose identity was withheld, was captured about 10 hours after he crossed the border in the eastern county of Goseong late Tuesday. His crossing was detected on the South's surveillance equipment, prompting the military to launch extensive search operations.

"Our military safely captured the man at around 9:50 a.m. In coordination with related authorities, we will carry out investigation into the man, including how he crossed the border and if he has the intention to defect to the South," the JCS said in a statement.
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