North Korea warms to South Korea after visit, volume down on border propaganda

UNTV News   •   February 13, 2018   •   3954

FILE PHOTO: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects a newly established Pyongyang trackless trolley factory in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on February 1, 2018. KCNA/via REUTERS

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea’s leader said he wants to boost the “warm climate of reconciliation and dialogue” with South Korea after his high-level delegation returned from a visit to the South, as his foes reiterated the need to keep up maximum pressure and sanctions.

Kim Jong Un gave instructions for measures aimed at more inter-Korean engagement after his younger sister Kim Yo Jong led a three-day visit to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, North Korea’s state media reported on Tuesday.

It did not specify what those instructions were.

The United States has appeared to endorse deeper post-Olympics engagement between the two Koreas that could lead to talks between Pyongyang and Washington. South’s President Moon Jae-in said on Tuesday the United States is open to talking with North Korea, Moon’s spokesman told a briefing.

“The United States sees inter-Korean dialogue in a positive light and has expressed its openness for talks with the North,” Moon told Latvian President Raimonds Vējonis, according to the spokesman.

U.S. officials also want tough international sanctions to be ramped up to push North Korea to give up its nuclear program.

That sentiment was repeated by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday, who said Moon had agreed it was necessary to keep up maximum pressure on North Korea.

Last year, North Korea conducted dozens of missile launches and its sixth and largest nuclear test in defiance of U.N. resolutions as it pursues its goal of developing a nuclear-armed missile capable of reaching the United States.

Japanese officials took pains to stress there was no daylight between Japan, the United States and South Korea on their approach to dealing with North Korea.

The United States’ “fundamental policy” aimed at denuclearization of the Korean peninsula has not changed, said a senior Japanese diplomat in a briefing to lawmakers.

“The goal is denuclearization and the process is dialogue for dialogue, action for action, so if North Korea does not show actions, the United States and Japan will not change their policies,” he said.

A senior military official stationed at the border between North and South Korea told Reuters North Korea has lowered the volume of its border propaganda broadcasts since the Olympics’ opening ceremony on Feb. 9.

“I still hear it, but it is much less than before,” said the official who is stationed on the southern side of the border and spoke on condition of anonymity.

DIPLOMATIC SOLUTION

Moon, who was offered a meeting with Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang via his sister, has been pushing for a diplomatic solution to the standoff over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

Seoul is planning to push ahead with its plans for reunions of family members separated by the 1950-53 Korean War in order to sustain the dialogue prompted by the North Korean delegation’s visit.

Meanwhile, Trump urged Russia to do more in urging North Korea to scrap its nuclear program, the White House said on Monday, aimed at intensifying the pressure campaign on Pyongyang.

Talk of an inter-Korean summit, which would be the first since 2007 if it happened, come after months of tension between Pyongyang, Seoul and Washington.

As with North Korean media over the weekend, the KCNA report again made no mention of the summit offer made to Moon.

Rather, Kim Jong Un gave his gratitude to Seoul for their “sincere efforts” to prioritize the delegation’s visit, which were “very impressive”, KCNA said.

Moon and his administration hosted several meetings and meals for the delegation during their stay at the presidential Blue House and luxury five-star hotels while Moon personally accompanied Kim Yo Jong for events at the Olympics as well as an orchestra concert.

In addition to the high-level delegation, hundreds of North Koreans including an orchestra and cheer squad have visited South Korea for the Winter Olympics.

The cheerleading team will be attendance at the united women’s ice hockey team’s final game in the Olympics on Wednesday, facing old rival Japan to conclude preliminary round play.

Reporting by Christine Kim; Additional reporting by Linda Sieg and Tim Kelly in TOKYO and James Pearson in PYEONGCHANG, South Korea; Editing by Lincoln Feast

South Korean president warns of epidemic second wave

UNTV News   •   May 10, 2020

South Korean President Moon Jae-In

South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Sunday (May 10) warned of a second wave of the epidemic later this year, saying the recent cluster underscored the risks that the virus which causes COVID-19 can spread widely again at any time.

“It’s not over until it’s over. While keeping enhanced alertness till the end, we must never lower our guard regarding epidemic prevention,” he said in a televised speech marking the third anniversary of his inauguration.

South Korea reported 34 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, the highest daily number in a month, after a small outbreak emerged around a slew of nightclubs that a confirmed patient had visited.

Of the new cases, 26 were domestically transmitted infections and eight were imported cases, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said.

As part of a long-term battle on COVID-19, the KCDC will be given greater power and will be renamed the Disease Control and Prevention Administration, Moon said. Local governments will set up their own epidemic response systems with more experts.

(Production: Hyunyoung Yi)

Japan’s PM Abe extends state of emergency until end of May

UNTV News   •   May 4, 2020

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday (May 4) he has decided to extend the country’s national state of emergency to the end of the month.

Abe will consider lifting the nationwide state of emergency without waiting for its May 31 expiration if expert advisors decide that is possible based on detailed analysis of regional infection trends, he said at a meeting of the government’s coronavirus task force.

He said his advisors said that Japan had not seen the explosive surge in infections seen in some countries overseas, but the number of new infection cases had not fallen enough and there were regions where the medical system was facing strains.

For the 13 prefectures including Tokyo and Osaka that have been hardest hit, a target of reducing person-to-person contacts by 80% would remain in place, Abe said. Japan will move gradually to a framework that will combine prevention of the spread of infections with maintaining social and economic activities, he added. (Reuters)

(Production: Akira Tomoshige, Hideto Sakai)

South Korean officials call for caution amid reports that North Korean leader is ill

UNTV News   •   April 27, 2020

A photo released by the official North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows Kim Jong Un (C), chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea and supreme commander of the armed forces of the DPRK, inspecting the defence detachment on Changrin Islet, North Korea (issued 25 November 2019).

South Korean officials are calling for caution amid reports that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may be ill, emphasizing that they have detected no unusual movements in North Korea.

A spokeswoman for the Unification Ministry said on Monday (April 27) she had nothing to confirm when asked about reports that Kim was in Wonsan.

South Korea’s defence ministry spokeswoman said on Monday that the military hotline is operating normally and there’s no more to say, when she asked about whether they discussed the recent issue with North Korea.

Rumours and speculation over the North Korean leader’s health began after he made no public appearance at a key state holiday on April 15 and has since remained out of sight.

South Korea media last week reported that Kim may have undergone cardiovascular surgery or was in isolation to avoid exposure to the new coronavirus. (Reuters)

(Production: Daewoung Kim, Hyunyoung Yi)

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