North Korea Junks All Economic Cooperation Deals With South Korea as Kim Jong Un Claims Legal Right to Destroy South
By Jace Dela Cruz
Feb 09, 2024 05:30 AM EST
Feb 09, 2024 05:30 AM EST
North Korea's Supreme People's Assembly has voted to junk all deals with South Korea on promoting economic cooperation as the ties between the neighboring countries continue to deteriorate.
According to the South China Morning Post, North Korea's parliament also decided to scrap laws governing economic ties with Seoul, including the special regulation regarding the Mount Kumgang tourism project's operation.
This project, which once symbolized economic collaboration between North Korea and South Korea, commenced during a period of diplomatic engagement in the early 2000s, attracting nearly two million South Korean visitors.
However, this tour to the scenic mountain on the east coast of North Korea was suspended in 2008 following the tragic death of a South Korean tourist at the hands of North Korean guards after straying into a restricted area.
South Korea's Unification Ministry, which handles ties with North Korea, said Pyongyang's move would only deepen its isolation. A South Korean official further noted that the country does not recognize the unilateral move.
On the other hand, North Korea's special regulation involving another significant economic project between the two Koreas, the Kaesong industrial zone, was not mentioned in the report of the North's Korean Central News Agency on Thursday.
During its peak, this industrial zone reportedly housed the factories of 125 South Korean firms that employ 55,000 North Korean workers.
This factory zone closed in 2016 following the pullout of companies due to escalating tensions prompted by North Korea's nuclear test and missile launches.
In a pre-recorded interview with KBS aired on Wednesday, South Korea's President Yoon Suk-yeol said the shift in North's inter-Korea policy was "an extraordinary change," but it was difficult to understand what's behind this decision.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said on Friday that he has no desire for diplomacy with South Korea and that he has the legal right to annihilate its rival if provoked.
According to Kim, his recent moves to cut ties with South Korea will allow his military to take on a more aggressive posture "by securing lawfulness to strike and destroy (the South) whenever triggered," ABC News reported.
But despite North Korea's recent escalation of threats and numerous tests of weapons aimed toward South Korea, Yoon said he remains open to engaging the North, even through a summit meeting with Kim and providing economic support, according to Reuters.
However, he added that the leadership of North Korea was "not a rational group."
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