Published: 16:55, January 17, 2020 | Updated: 08:47, June 6, 2023
ROK says policy on DPRK belongs to matter of sovereignty
By Xinhua

The Republic of Korea's chief delegate Lee Sang-Min (left), a senior Unification Ministry official, shakes hands with his counterpart from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea Pak Chol-su (right) as he arrives at the Kaesong Industrial District Management Committee in Kaesong on July 16, 2015. (KOREA POOL / AFP)

SEOUL The Republic of Korea (ROK)'s unification ministry said on Friday that the country's policy on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) belonged to a matter of sovereignty.

Lee Sang-min, the ministry's spokesman, told a press briefing that the policy on the DPRK belonged to the sovereignty of ROK, saying the United States repeatedly expressed respect for the sovereignty through various channels.

The comment came after US Ambassador to ROK Harry Harris reportedly told a group of foreign reporters that it would be "better" for ROK to pursue the inter-Korean cooperation through the "working group" between Seoul and Washington in a bid to avoid "misunderstanding."

The spokesman said Seoul was anticipating an expanded private exchange between the two Koreas by allowing ROK people to visit the DPRK in various forms

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Harris' remark was seen by local media as the US demand for ROK making a prior consultation with the US government before launching any inter-Korean cooperation.

ROK President Moon Jae-in said in his New Year press conference earlier this week that an enhanced inter-Korean cooperation can help win international support for the "exemption of a part of sanctions" against the DPRK or the approval of "exceptional measures."

Moon said that if it is necessary to win an exceptional approval from the UN Security Council over sanctions against the DPRK, he had willingness to make efforts for it during the process of inter-Korean cooperation.

The spokesman said Seoul was anticipating an expanded private exchange between the two Koreas by allowing ROK people to visit the DPRK in various forms.

He noted that individual tour by ROK people to the DPRK was not in violation of UN sanctions against Pyongyang as seen in many other foreign tourists traveling to the DPRK.

Tour by ROK people to the DPRK's scenic resort of Mount Kumgang, launched in 1998, had been run for about 10 years before shutdown in 2008 when a ROK people tourist was shot dead by a DPRK solider after allegedly venturing into off-limit areas.

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Lee said ROK was considering various ways to increase private exchange with the DPRK from the perspective of inter-Korean cooperation, noting that what is the most important would be whether the DPRK authorities permit ROK's individual tour to the country.

The spokesman added that ROK will closely cooperate with the international community, if necessary, while pushing for inter-Korean cooperation projects that the two Koreas can do independently.