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Summary of inter-Korean news this week

16:00 June 14, 2019

SEOUL, June 14 (Yonhap) -- The following is a summary of inter-Korean news this week.

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N. Korea denounces S. Korea's scaled-down military exercise

SEOUL, June 9 (Yonhap) -- A North Korean propaganda outlet on Sunday slammed South Korea's recent civilian-military exercise, calling it tantamount to a hostile act against the North.

Following up on its military agreement with Pyongyang last year, Seoul abolished its annual springtime joint military exercises with the U.S. armed forces, the Ulchi Freedom Guardian, to launch the Ulchi Taegeuk exercise this year.

Around 480,000 South Korean civilians, government officials and armed service members joined the inaugural exercise from May 27-30.

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Moon expects dialogue with N. Korea to resume soon

HELSINKI, June 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in struck an upbeat note Monday on efforts to restart talks with North Korea, stressing that dialogue momentum needs to stay alive.

Speaking after a summit here with his Finnish counterpart, Sauli Niinisto, Moon said dialogue is under way for the continuation of talks between South and North Korea, as well as North Korea and the United States.

It was unclear whether the president meant an informal contact with Pyongyang, as there have been no formal, announced negotiations with the communist nation since the breakdown of the Hanoi summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un in late February.

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Pro-N. Korea paper urges Seoul to take 'practical' action to break stalemate

SEOUL, June 11 (Yonhap) -- A pro-North Korea newspaper urged South Korea on Tuesday to go beyond words and take "practical" action, saying such an approach would help break the impasse in inter-Korean relations.

"If the South Korean authorities make a courageous decision to take practical action, not just words, in tackling the current stalemate in lockstep with North Korean compatriots, there will be an answer from the North," the Japan-based Choson Sinbo said in an article.

"As declared in (Kim Jong-un's) New Year speech, our supreme leader's determination to write a history of our people hand in hand with the South Korean authorities for peace and co-prosperity remains strong and firm," it added.

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N. Korean newspaper slams S. Korea, U.S. over defense chiefs' meeting

SEOUL, June 11 (Yonhap) -- A North Korean newspaper on Tuesday lashed out at South Korea and the United States over a recent meeting of their top defense officials, calling the talks a "hostile act" that goes against an inter-Korean agreement to reduce military tensions.

Referring to the meeting between Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo and acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan in Seoul last week, Minju Joson, the organ of the North's cabinet, said it is a "clear manifestation of the ambition" to "militarily crush" North Korea.

The newspaper said the allies "plotted to strengthen their military collusion" during the talks, such as by carrying out a joint military drill.

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S. Korea informs N. Korea of death of former first lady

SEOUL, June 11 (Yonhap) -- South Korea informed North Korea on Tuesday that the wife of late President Kim Dae-jung has passed away through their joint liaison office in the North's border town of Kaesong, the unification ministry said.

Lee Hee-ho died Monday at the age of 96 after battling liver cancer. She is known for her lifelong support for Kim's efforts to bring democracy to South Korea and make peace with North Korea.

"We informed the North Korean side of the news via the joint liaison office early in the day at the request of the funeral organizers for late Lee Hee-ho," the ministry said in a text message to reporters.

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Seoul wires promised money to U.N. agencies for N.K. projects

SEOUL, June 11 (Yonhap) -- South Korea on Tuesday sent a pledged donation of US$8 million to U.N. agencies to support their efforts to provide assistance to North Korean women and children in need, the unification ministry said.

Last week, the Seoul government endorsed the donation plan for the World Food Programme (WFP) and the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) for their projects to support the nutrition of children and pregnant women in North Korea and address their health problems.

Of the total, $4.5 million was allocated to the WFP and the remainder to UNICEF.

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Kaesong complex unlikely to reopen before N.K. denuclearization: U.S. lawmaker

WASHINGTON, June 11 (Yonhap) -- A ranking Democratic congressman on Tuesday expressed doubt that the inter-Korean industrial complex in North Korea will reopen before the regime's denuclearization.

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Asia, met with a group of South Korean businessmen who used to operate factories at the Kaesong industrial park.

The eight-member delegation was in the U.S. to seek public and government support for the reopening of the complex that was shuttered in February 2016 amid heightened tensions over the North's nuclear and missile programs.

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N. Korean fishing boat stranded in East Sea, returned home

SEOUL, June 11 (Yonhap) -- A North Korean fishing boat was found adrift in South Korean waters off the East Coast on Tuesday and was sent back to its country on humanitarian grounds, Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.

The boat carrying six crewmen was spotted by a South Korean naval vessel in waters some 5 kilometers south of the Northern Limit Line (NLL) in the East Sea, or some 161 km northeast of the country's eastern port city of Sokcho, at around 1:15 p.m. due to an engine problem, according to the JCS.

As all the crew members aboard expressed their intention of returning home and North Korea asked for their rescue and repatriation via the inter-Korean military communication line, the South Korean military towed the ship and sent it and crewmen back to the North at around 7:08 p.m., the JCS added.

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N.K. leader sends condolence message, flowers for former first lady's funeral

SEOUL/PANMUNJOM, June 12 (Joint Press Corps-Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un sent a condolence message and flowers to South Korea via his sister on Wednesday over the death of former first lady Lee Hee-ho.

Kim's sister, Kim Yo-jong, delivered the message and flowers during a meeting at the border village of Panmunjom with Chung Eui-yong, head of South Korea's presidential National Security Office, Vice Unification Minister Suh Ho and Rep. Park Jie-won of the minor opposition Party for Democracy and Peace.

"(Kim) expressed hope to continue inter-Korean cooperation honoring the efforts made by Lee Hee-ho for the reconciliation and cooperation of the Korean people," Chung told reporters upon arriving from his trip to Panmunjom.

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Moon hopes to meet Kim before Trump visits S. Korea in late June

OSLO, June 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in expressed hope Wednesday that he will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump's visit to the peninsula at the end of this month.

Speaking at the Oslo Forum in the Norwegian capital, Moon also emphasized the urgency of Pyongyang and Washington resuming formal dialogue.

Trump is scheduled to attend the two-day G-20 summit to open in Osaka, Japan, on June 28. He plans to travel to South Korea as well during the upcoming Northeast Asia tour. No exact schedule has been announced yet.

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New vice unification minister visits inter-Korean liaison office for 1st time

SEOUL, June 14 (Yonhap) -- Vice Unification Minister Suh Ho visited the inter-Korean liaison office in North Korea's border town of Kaesong on Friday for the first time since his appointment.

Suh was appointed last week as the South Korean chief of the office. He replaced Chun Hae-sung last month as vice unification minister, who also serves as Seoul's liaison office chief.

Suh crossed the western land border into the North earlier in the day. He plans to stay there until the afternoon to meet South Korean staff and figure out the overall operation of the office, according to the unification ministry.
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