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North Official’s Remark Angers Many

Posted June. 16, 2006 03:08,   


The recent comment by Ahn Kyung Ho, the head of North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, that if the Grand National Party rules South Korea, the entire country will be enveloped in war and flames, has triggered a controversy around the country. Many South Koreans are voicing their criticism against North Korea regarding Ahn’s remark.

Including poet Kim Ji-ha, ten leaders of South Korea’s religious, business and political circles sent a letter to Ahn yesterday calling his statement undermining the principle of noninterference in domestic affairs. They also urged Ahn to cancel his remarks and to apologize.

“We have to question the identity of this administration as it lets Ahn wander around South Korean streets. We must arrest Ahn and deport him,” Grand National Party Representative Lee Q-taek said.

Meanwhile, Unification Minister Lee Jong-suk met with North Korea’s civilian representative Ahn yesterday at the ceremonial event of the inter-Korean unification festival celebrating the sixth anniversary of the historic inter-Korean summit in 2000. “The South Korean government lost the public’s favor due to the cancellation of inter-Korea train test run. Under these difficult circumstances, I ask you to keep neutral,” said Lee to Ahn.

The Uri Party spokesperson, Woo Sang-ho emphasized that it is undesirable for the North to interfere with the South’s politics.

However, North Korea’s state-run Korean Central Broadcasting Station reported the same day that the Secretariat of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland claimed it spoke only the truth. “We only told the truth, which was a necessary medication for the Grand National Party to take. We warn the Grand National Party that if it does not fix its bad habits, there will be no future,” the committee was reported to have said.

On June 14, Ahn explained to South Korean delegation leader Paik Nak-chung that his remarks were not intended to be inflammatory, but were meant to tell the Grand National Party to support the inter-Korean joint declaration. Nevertheless, Ahn declined from answering reporters’ questions on that issue.

Jung-Hun Kim jnghn@donga.com taewon_ha@donga.com