SEOUL, July 18 (Yonhap) -- A North Korean propaganda media outlet reported Sunday that the leader of South Korea's main opposition party is under fire over his calls for abolishing the unification ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, a move seen as indirect criticism of the abolition idea.
North Korean media outlets had been silent about People Power Party Chairman Lee Jun-seok's call to dismantle the unification ministry in charge of reconciliation efforts with the North, though the idea faced criticism from both the ruling and opposition parties in the South.
But on Sunday, Tongil Voice, a North Korean propaganda radio broadcast, cited South Korean media reporting that various voices of criticism have been flowing out from the political and social circles, and that some called the idea "foolish, irresponsible and absurd."
Earlier this month, Lee called into question the existence of the unification ministry in a radio interview, 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 the unification of the Korean Peninsula.
The unification ministry has handled all issues related to inter-Korean relations and unification since it was first launched in 1969 as the Board of National Unification and later upgraded into a full ministry
N. Korea's SLBM drive aimed at regime survival, military edge, negotiation leverage: analysts
N. Korea's suspension from Olympics augurs ill for Seoul's peace efforts
IOC suspension of N. Korea latest wrinkle in inter-Korean sports cooperation
Hotline restoration raises hopes for inter-Korean summit, resumption of nuclear talks
N. Korea's withdrawal from Tokyo Olympics dampens hope for renewing inter-Korean sports cooperation