Tag Archives: Korea

North Korea releases South Korean after illegal border crossing

North Korea releases South Korean after illegal border crossingNorth Korea released a South Korean who illegally crossed the border into the North, South Korea’s Unification Ministry said on Tuesday, as relations between the two sides show a steady thaw. A 60-year-old man who entered North Korea last month was repatriated through the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone, the ministry said. All South Korean nationals are required to seek approval from the ministry before contacting North Koreans or traveling to the North.  The ministry said it was investigating how and why the man reached the North, thanking Pyongyang for returning him “from a humanitarian standpoint”.



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North and South Korea agree railway ceremony next month

North and South Korea agree railway ceremony next monthThe two Koreas will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the reconnection of their railways and roads as early as next month, they agreed Monday, as Seoul pursues an approach to the nuclear-armed North increasingly diverging from the US. “The South and North agreed to hold the groundbreaking ceremony for the connection and modernisation of the east and west coast rail and road in late November or early December,” read a joint statement issued after the meeting. Monday’s talks marked the second meeting between South Korean unification minister Cho Myoung-gyon and his North Korean counterpart Ri Son Gwon since President Moon Jae-in met with Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang last month.



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France says it could help North Korea denuclearize if it sees real commitment

France says it could help North Korea denuclearize if it sees real commitmentFrance, a nuclear power and permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, is not directly involved in talks between North Korea, South Korea and the United States to work toward the region’s denuclearization. “We are waiting for precise commitments from Pyongyang to demonstrate its real desire to engage in a dismantlement of its nuclear and ballistic programs,” Macron told a news conference alongside his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in. “We are ready to put forward our expertise and play an active role if a negotiation process is started.” North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump pledged at a landmark summit in Singapore in June to work toward denuclearization.



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Pope visit to North Korea feasible if well prepared, South Korean bishop says

Pope visit to North Korea feasible if well prepared, South Korean bishop saysThe bishop, Lazarus You Heung-sik of Daejeon, spoke ahead of a meeting next week in the Vatican between Francis and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who will be carrying an invitation from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to visit Pyongyang. “If the pope goes there, it will be a gigantic step, a qualitative step for the Korean peninsula, for its pacification,” said You, who was in Rome for a meeting of bishops from around the world known as a synod. “North Korea could enter the world community as a normal country.



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Kim Jong-un's invitation for Pope Francis to visit North Korea condemned as propaganda stunt

Kim Jong-un's invitation for Pope Francis to visit North Korea condemned as propaganda stuntA human rights activist has criticised North Korea’s invitation for the Pope to visit Pyongyang as an “impure manoeuvre” designed to fool the world into believing that the regime is becoming more open to religious freedoms.  South Korea’s presidential Blue House announced on Tuesday that Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, extended the invitation during his summit in September in Pyongyang with Moon Jae-in, his South Korean counterpart. Mr Moon, a practising Catholic, will pass the offer on when he meets the Pope at the Vatican next week, part of his upcoming nine-day visit to Europe.  Activists say Mr Kim’s offer is “propaganda”. “There are no religious freedoms in North Korea and the regime does not permit worship of anything other than the Kim family”, said Song Young-chae, a member of the Seoul-based Worldwide Coalition to Stop Genocide in North Korea.  “The intention behind this impure manoeuvre is clearly to try to convince the rest of the world that they are changing, that they are improving their human rights record and that they can be trusted”, he told The Telegraph. “Mr Kim wants a public meeting with the Pope for propaganda reasons”. At a glance | North Korea’s human rights record Two churches were constructed in Pyongyang in the 1980s, along with a Russian Orthodox church that was completed in 2006, but Mr Song said they are merely for show and that “the church is just a puppet to the Kim family”.  After interviewing dozens of defectors, the 2014 United Nations Commission of Inquiry concluded there was “an almost complete denial of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion” in North Korea, while the US State Department’s 2017 paper on religious freedoms in the North said the government exacts harsh punishments on those who insist on following their religion, including executions, torture, beatings and arrest.  The Catholic church estimated that there were around 55,000 followers of the Catholic religion in North Korea when the Korean War broke out in 1950, but that figure is believed to have dwindled to a maximum of 4,000.  Kim Jong-il, the father of the present North Korean leader, invited Pope John Paul II to North Korea in 2000. The trip never materialised, however, reportedly because the Vatican insisted at the time that the Pope would only visit if Catholic priests were permitted to worship in the North.  “It’s impossible for the Pope to go”, said Toshimitsu Shigemura, a professor at Tokyo’s Waseda University and an authority on the North Korean leadership.  “To permit religious freedoms would undermine the cult of personality that has been built up around the Kim family, so this offer is solely designed to deflect criticisms over human rights”, he said. 



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South Korea says Pompeo complained about inter-Korean military pact

South Korea says Pompeo complained about inter-Korean military pactThe deal was sealed by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during their third summit in Pyongyang on Sept. 18-20. During an annual parliamentary audit on Wednesday, an opposition party lawmaker asked Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha if Pompeo had complained about the agreement during a phone call reported earlier by Japan’s Nikkei newspaper. While maintaining that it remains in lockstep with the United States, South Korea has forged ahead with efforts to engage with North Korea, even as critics accused Moon of naively focusing on feel-good theatrics at the expense of real progress in persuading North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.



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South Korea's Foreign Minister Says Seoul May Lift Some Sanctions on North Korea

South Korea's Foreign Minister Says Seoul May Lift Some Sanctions on North KoreaSouth Korean President Moon Jae-in has described inter-Korean engagement as crucial to resolving the nuclear standoff



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Australia, Japan agree to keep pressure on North Korea

Australia, Japan agree to keep pressure on North KoreaCANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia and Japan on Wednesday reaffirmed their commitment to pressuring North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program and enforcing sanctions on Pyongyang.



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South Korea considers lifting some sanctions on North Korea

South Korea considers lifting some sanctions on North KoreaSEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea is considering lifting some of its unilateral sanctions against North Korea to create more momentum for diplomacy aimed at improving relations and defusing the nuclear crisis, the South's foreign minister said Wednesday.



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Pompeo says U.S., North Korea continue to make progress toward denuclearization

Pompeo says U.S., North Korea continue to make progress toward denuclearizationShortly after arriving in South Korea following the visit, Pompeo posted a photo of himself walking along with Kim on Twitter, saying: “Had a good trip to #Pyongyang to meet with Chairman Kim. Thanks for hosting me and my team @StateDept.” Kim and Pompeo met for about two hours, including lunch at the Paekhwawon, or 100 Flowers Garden, a prestigious state guesthouse, according to a pool report. The brief trip, his fourth since March, was initially planned in late August but called off at the last minute by U.S. President Donald Trump who blamed lack of progress.



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