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Inter-Korea civilian exchange eased amid Washington's sanctions

Inter-Korea civilian exchange eased amid Washington's sanctions

Posted June. 03, 2017 07:07,   

Updated June. 03, 2017 07:15


The South Korean government on Friday issued permission en masse to eight South Korean civilian organizations to allow contact with North Korea. The government has thus taken a step that runs counter to the U.S. government that announced stern additional measures to independently sanction North Korea on Thursday (local time).

The organizations that Seoul gave permission for contract with North Korea include two humanitarian aid agencies including Okedongmu Children in Korea and Medical Aid for Children, and six religious exchange organizations including Uni Korea under the Buddhist Jogye Order, Share and Unification under the Buddhist Cheontae Order, Peace 3000, the National Council of Churches in Korea, and the Korea Conference of Religions for Peace. They bring the number of South Korean organizations that have won permission to contact the North since the inauguration of the Moon Jae-in administration to 10, including Korean Sharing Movement and the South Korean committee for the June 15 Joint (inter-Korean) Declaration, which acquired permission on May 26 and 31, respectively.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control made surprise announcement on a decision to impose independent sanctions against four individuals and 10 organizations in North Korea. The core targets of the latest sanctions are the North’s State Council, the People’s Liberation Army, and the Ministry of the People's Armed Forces. Notably the U.S. Treasury Department mentioned twice North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s name in the statement in expressing its strong determination to sanction the North. Washington is increasing pressure on the North as Pyongyang has continued its missile provocations despite the international community’s stern warnings.

“We will flexibly consider civilian (inter-Korean) exchange to the extent that they will not interfere with the international community’s sanctions against the North,” the new South Korean government has said. However, critics have raised concern over possible negative effect on the South Korea-U.S. alliance as the new administration has displayed incompatibility in North Korea policy vis-à-vis the U.S. after putting the brakes on the deployment of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense missile defense system in the South.

Sung-Ha Joo zsh75@donga.com · Se-Hyung Lee turtle@donga.com