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Is Kim Reaching Out to South Korea?

Posted January. 22, 2007 07:03,   


North Korea is making active efforts to restore South-North relations this year. As they said in a New Year joint editorial, they are intending to embark on furthering inter-Korean economic cooperation and people-to-people exchanges in order to improve the people’s lives after successfully conducting nuclear test and “becoming powerful country.”

Opinions came out that after the nuclear test, many people died of hunger or were frozen to death due to deteriorating economic conditions from sanctions against the North posed by international society according to a UN resolution. This “nuclear winter” seems to have prompted the North’s behavioral change.

Kim Ki Nam, secretary of the Workers` Party who visited South Korea as a North Korean representative during the 8.15 National Unification Festival in 2005, emphasized that the South Korean government should restore North-South relations as quickly as possible, and make proper steps to head toward reconciliation, cooperation and unification.

The North seems to have concluded that the resumption of food and fertilizer aid from the South Korean government suspended by the missile launches and nuclear test last year is not likely and therefore they should lead South-North relations to promotion of exchanges and cooperation in the civilian level. North Korea informed the South Korean government and Hyundai Asan of their decision to continue their partnership with Hyundai Asan for Gaesung tourism project, calling off their initial plan to change the partner to Lotto tours. A government official said “When Lee Jong-suk, former unification minister, visited the Gaesung industrial complex on December 8, 2005, North Korean officials said they would do Gaesung tourism business with Hyundai and also said words to Hyundai Asan officials to the effect that ‘Let’s make the Gaesung tour business successful this year’.”

The North would start to make dollars by resuming “Arirang” performances in April, which was cancelled due to a flood disaster last year. In 2005, 7,200 South Korean tourists watched the performance.

A source on North Korea who recently came back from a visit to the North said, “Slogans related to nuclear tests which filled Pyongyang’s downtown are are gone; new slogans emphasizing efforts to improve people’s lives have newly appeared.” Also, he said that TV programs he watched at a hotel during his stay in Pyongyang showed no more nuclear-related reports. They were mostly talking about economic activities.

The Sunday Telegraph, a British newspaper, reported that as North Korea’s isolation is worsening due to the international community’s sanctions against the North, the people are having a more difficult winter than ever.

The following is a summarized news report.

“46 residents died amid freezing weather following a heavy snow in “Gugang”, an isolated village in a hilly area, 320 km northeast of Pyongyang. There were many women and children among the victims. This year, more than 300 residents living in mountainous areas are estimated to have frozen to death in 30 degrees below zero. An official at the Chinese embassy in Pyongyang confirmed the fact by saying “No one made it out of this isolated village. However, a privileged 50,000 people in Pyongyang are enjoying winter luxuriously with hot water, heating and satellite TV.”

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