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North Korea demands repatriation of waitresses

Posted May. 21, 2018 08:52,   

Updated May. 21, 2018 08:52


After threatening to cancel a planned summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, North Korea has been using coarse words everyday against the United States and South Korea. Pyongyang also cancelled a high-level inter-Korean meeting, and demanded Seoul to repatriate defected North Korean waitresses. The heads of South Korea and the United States have exchanged views Sunday on various actions of North Korea on a phone call.

A statement from the North’s Red Cross said Saturday, “The South Korean authorities should send our women citizens to their families without delay and thus show the will to improve North-South ties.” Pyongyang reportedly demanded repatriation of its waitresses at the high-level summit with South Korea on January 9, but its official demand was announced for the first time this year.

North Korean propaganda website Uriminzokkiri said Saturday that the South Korean government should adopt a drastic measure to stop North Korean defectors from acting rashly before the situation becomes even more serious, aiming at several North Korean defectors including former North Korean Deputy Ambassador to London Thae Yong-ho.

North Korea promised to invite South Korean journalists to the event to scrap its nuclear test site in Punggye-ri to be held around Wednesday to Friday, but it has not authorized their visit to North Korea yet. But it seems that the event itself is being organized considering that it built a lookout at the test site and a railroad from Wonsan to Kilju. Foreign affairs experts analyze North Korea’s actions as a tactic to have more bargaining power against the United States without crossing the line and spoiling the mood for the summit and to manage hardliners in Pyongyang who could be discontented with the denuclearization talks.

South Korea’s presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said Moon and Trump exchanged their views on North Korea’s changed attitudes on a 20-minute phone call from 11.30 a.m. on Sunday. “They exchanged questions and answers on North Korea’s actions. The questions were mainly asked by Trump and Moon answered them,” a Cheong Wa Dae official said. “The call was made on Saturday night Washington time, which shows how resolute Trump is to hold the summit successfully.”

In-Chan Hwang hic@donga.com · Sang-Jun Han alwaysj@donga.com