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Summary of inter-Korean news this week

All News 16:00 December 11, 2020

SEOUL, Dec. 11 (Yonhap) -- The following is a summary of inter-Korean news this week.

N. Korea may respond to calls for antivirus cooperation after party congress: minister

SEOUL, Dec. 8 (Yonhap) -- Unification Minister Lee In-young said Tuesday that North Korea might respond to calls for inter-Korean cooperation on fighting the coronavirus pandemic after holding a rare party congress early next month.

Lee made the remarks during an interview with local radio broadcaster CBS, saying the North is likely to focus on its antivirus campaign until next month before reaching out to South Korea for cooperation in the field of public health.

"I am certain North Korea has checked our intention and I expect that there could be a possibility (of communication and exchanges) after January," he said in response to a question on antivirus cooperation.

N.K. leader's sister says S. Korean FM will 'pay dearly' for remarks on COVID-19

SEOUL, Dec. 9 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader's sister Kim Yo-Jong on Wednesday slammed South Korea's foreign minister over her recent remarks on Pyongyang's antivirus measures, saying that she will "pay dearly" for them and warning the already frozen inter-Korean relations could get worse.

Last week, South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told a forum in Bahrain that the North has been unresponsive to Seoul's calls for cross-border antivirus cooperation, adding that Pyongyang's claim that it has no coronavirus cases is hard to believe.

"It can be seen from the reckless remarks made by her without any consideration of the consequences that she is too eager to further chill the frozen relations between the north and south of Korea," Kim said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

(Yonhap Interview) Defector-turned-lawmaker says nuke talks with N.K. without tackling human rights issue like building 'sand castle'

SEOUL, Dec. 9 (Yonhap) -- A North Korean defector-turned-lawmaker has called for more efforts to resolve the North's dire human rights situations, saying seeking nuclear talks without tackling the issue is like building a "sand castle" that could crumble down anytime.

In a recent interview with Yonhap News Agency, Rep. Ji Seong-ho of the main opposition People Power Party (PPP) also expressed hope that the incoming Joe Biden administration of the United States will not trade human rights for denuclearization.

Ji received global spotlight as he was invited to President Donald Trump's State of Union speech in 2018 where he triumphantly held up his crutches, drawing a standing ovation and reminding the global community of the abject human rights conditions in the North.

Ministry mulling adjustments to Panmunjom tours over virus concerns

SEOUL, Dec. 10 (Yonhap) -- The unification ministry considers adjusting a recently resumed tour program to the truce village of Panmunjom amid toughened social distancing measures against the coronavirus, a ministry official said Thursday.

The official did not specify what the adjustments might be, but observers say they could include scaling down or suspending the tours altogether in consideration of a recent spike in daily infection cases.

"We will announce plans soon for tours starting next week in consideration of the antivirus measures, although things are still somewhat variable," the official said.

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