In the News – N.Korea threatens not to associate with Lee government

In the News – N.Korea threatens not to associate with Lee government

By Kim Kyu-won, Staff Writer

North Korea declared Friday that it would “never again associate with the traitorous thug Lee Myung-bak,” taking issue with the South Korea government’s attitude during the funeral period for Kim Jong-il.

Analysts said inter-Korean relations are unlikely to escape tensions in the near future.

In a statement Friday in the name of the National Defense Commission, Pyongyang said the South Korean government had “downgraded its condolences to ‘consolation to residents as separate from the North Korean administration,’ and fended off demands to send a condolence delegation with arguments about ‘mixed signals in South Choson [Korean] society.'”

The statement also said Seoul had “linked ‘final responsibility’ for the Cheonan sinking and Yeonpyeong Island artillery battle with our supreme majesty [chairman King Jong-il].”

The statement went on to deliver a blistering attack on the administration, saying it would “follow to the end tallying up the eternal crimes of the gang of traitors.”

Pyongyang took issue with the failure to express condolences at the government level, the limited permission granted for private condolence delegations by the administration, and a statement by Cheong Wa Dae senior official indicating that ultimate responsibility for the Cheonan sinking lay with Kim Jong-il.

The NDC, which is the supreme authority in North Korea according to the country’s Constitution, previously issued spokesperson’s statements on four occasions, including the time of the May 2010 announcement of findings from the Cheonan investigation and the time of joint marine exercises with the United States, but this is the first time a statement has been issued in the name of the organization itself, the Ministry of Unification said.

Following the death of Kim Il-sung in 1994, Pyongyang mentioned then President Kim Young-sam in a statement released the day after its memorial meeting denouncing the controversy over condolences in South Korea and the government disallowed expressions of condolence. This resulted in a long-term deterioration of inter-Korean relations.

Experts interpreted the statement as a call from Pyongyang for Seoul to effect fundamental changes in its North Korea policy. The argument is that North Korea made it clear with its remarks that no improvements to inter-Korean relations are possible through such minor changes as the flexibility measures of Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik or the limited permission of North Korea condolence visits.

Yu expressed his willingness to have dialogue with the country’s new leader, Workers’ Party of Korea Central Military Commission vice chairman Kim Jong-un, while passing ultimate responsibility for the Cheonan sinking and Yeonpyeong Island attack on to his father Kim Jong-il.

Kyungnam University professor Kim Keun-sik said, “When it emphasized the need to carry out the terms of the two inter-Korean summit statements, it was calling for a forward-thinking change in stance from the Southern government on issues like tourism at Mt. Kumkang.”

A government official said of the statement, “Despite the denunciations, you can see the willingness to have dialogue with the South.”

Analysts also said the statement appeared to reaffirm the country’s policy of using Kim Jong-il’s instructions as a guiding principle in inter-Korean relations in order to ensure stability in North Korea during the regime’s transitional period.

Dongguk University professor Kim Yong-hyun explained, “It comes across as setting up an opposition with the South in order to promote internal solidarity in North Korea in the wake of Kim Jong-il’s death.”

Some observers said that by releasing its first ever statement in the name of the NDC, Pyongyang was showing off the soundness of the commission as the country’s supreme organization even after Kim’s death.

Analysts also suggested that in issuing such a statement with such strong words for Seoul, the NDC was placing more weight on the possibility of improved relations with Washington. North Korea and the US have shown signs of continuing dialogue after Kim Jong-il’s death.

University of North Korean Studies professor Yang Moo-jin said, “We should note the fact that for all the denunciation of the South Korean government, there was no mention at all of the US government.”

“They may well have been giving advance notice of a new policy of connecting with Washington while shutting out Seoul,” Yang said.

Original article can be found here.

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