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Labor union of unification ministry voices 'strong regret' over calls to scrap ministry

All News 15:15 July 13, 2021

SEOUL, July 13 (Yonhap) -- The labor union of unification ministry employees expressed "strong regret" Tuesday over the main opposition People Power Party leader's call for scrapping the agency handling reconciliation efforts with North Korea.

PPP Chairman Lee Jun-seok called into question the existence of the unification ministry in a radio interview last week, saying it is inefficient to separate the duties of the unification ministry from the foreign ministry.

Unification Minister Lee In-young immediately rebuffed his arguments and voiced strong regret. Later, he also criticized the PPP chairman for lacking "historical awareness" with regard to unification of the Korean Peninsula.

"The labor union of the unification ministry expresses strong regret and worries over the arguments recently being raised by some that the ministry has to be dismantled," the union said in a statement.

"The peace and unification on the Korean Peninsula is what the Korean people ask us to achieve and the duty presented to our time," it added. "Whether to dismantle the unification ministry is not a matter of debate predicated on impromptu remarks emanating from the perspectives of political interests and narrow-minded performance-based ways of thinking."

The union also called for the ministry to use the controversy as a chance to renew itself and strengthen its functions in order to better serve the Constitution that supports a "peaceful unification" and heal the wounds from the decadeslong division of the Korean Peninsula.

The ministry was first launched in 1969 as the Board of National Unification. It was later upgraded into a full ministry responsible for all issues related to inter-Korean relations and unification.

Inter-Korean relations remain chilled since the Hanoi summit between the United States and North Korea in early 2019. The ties got strained further after North Korea blew up a joint liaison office in its border town of Kaesong last summer in protest of anti-Pyongyang leaflets sent into the country by defector groups.

The two Koreas technically remain in a state of war as the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.


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