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North blasts South for sticking with U.S. alliance

July 23,2018
North Korean media excoriated South Korean President Moon Jae-in and local authorities Saturday for what it said was kowtowing to the United States on inter-Korean issues, urging Seoul to distance itself from Washington to “make a great set-out in the new starting line of history.”

The regime also threatened to pull out of the planned reunion of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War, set for late August, if Seoul continues to refuse to repatriate 12 North Korean restaurant workers who made their way into the South in 2016. The South Korean government has continuously said they arrived on their “own free will,” but the North claims they were kidnapped by Seoul’s spy agency during the conservative Park Geun-hye government.

Pyongyang has a long history of denouncing Seoul and Washington through its state-controlled news outlets, but the regime had been toning down most of its harsh rhetoric this year after entering a period of detente, which makes the North’s recent reports criticizing Moon and his left-leaning administration a rarity.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles relations with the North, refused to make an official comment on the reports, but a local official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said it appeared that Pyongyang is fed up with Seoul’s unyielding stance supporting international sanctions on the regime unless it gives up its nuclear weapons.

The English version of an editorial published by the state newspaper Rodong Sinmun on Saturday read that Seoul hasn’t taken “any practical measures for the fundamental improvement” of South-North relations, “reading the face of their American masters, thereby leaving important issues between the north and the south permanently pending.”

The piece did not specify what those crucial issues were, but continued that Seoul was caught in the “evil cycle in which it has to flatter the one only to see the other repelling and in which it has to see the other interfere after it submits to the one,” deriding the South Korean-U.S. alliance.

Without directly referring to Moon, the North also criticized his recent remark that the leaders of North Korea and the U.S. “will have to face the judgment of the international society” if they fail to carry out the agreements made in their summit, calling it an “impudent” statement.

South Korean authorities are advised “to come to their senses” and “not to follow the outsiders but to opt for the road of independent reunification,” the Rodong Sinmun editorial went on.

In a separate editorial published in the Saturday edition of the newspaper, Pyongyang urged Seoul to return the 12 North Korean women who used to work in a North Korean government-run restaurant in the eastern Chinese port city of Ningbo before arriving in South Korea in April 2016.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]