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[Focus] N. Korea demands replacement of KNRC President Chang

[Focus] N. Korea demands replacement of KNRC President Chang

Posted November. 05, 2000 19:43,   


A growing amount of attention is being paid to how North Korea¡¯s negative reaction to an interview of Chang Choong-Sik, president of the (South) Korea National Red Cross (KNRC), by a monthly magazine will affect inter-Korean relations.

North Korea on Friday indirectly demanded Chang¡¯s dismissal in a statement from its Red Cross society, warning that the case would not be brought to a swift end. But the North¡¯s response to the interview is questionable, according to the initial analysis of related South Korean officials.

First of all, there are suspicions surrounding the time difference between the announcement of the North Korean statement and the publication of the interview.

The monthly magazine carrying the interview was issued on Sept. 20, and the North reacted angrily to it one and a half months later.

Furthermore, the North exchanged with the South the lists of candidates for the second reunions of separated families on Oct. 27 as scheduled, without referring to the interview at all.

Therefore, officials here believe that Pyongyang is attempting to delay the separated family reunion program due to its unavoidable internal problems. Reading the interview story in detail, it is clearly apparent that Chang made many efforts to understand the Northern side. The story does not contain anything that the North could take issue with, the officials said.

Chang said that the North has less freedom than South Korea, is in a difficult situation economically and has a controlled society compared to that of South Korea. But the North, reporting briefly on the interview, quoted it as saying that there is no freedom in North Korea, apparently deliberately making an issue of it.

Despite the North¡¯s hawkish response, the government judges that Pyongyang does not intend to shake the whole framework of South-North relations. Therefore, it hopes that the case will be wrapped up in consideration of the position and face of the North.

Nonetheless, the government maintains it would be difficult to replace Chang, although it is taking the North¡¯s stance into consideration. If the KNRC president is replaced due to the incident, the government will face criticism that the North even wields the right of personnel management in the South.

The government plans to decide on how to cope with the situation after it gauges the North¡¯s intentions regarding the issue around Nov. 10, when the two sides are scheduled to exchange the results of their investigations into whether the separated family members are dead or alive.