An additional overture was offered by South Korea’s unification minister to North Korea on Monday, encouraging resumption of inter-Korean discussions following over a year’s impasse in diplomatic ties.
Unification minister Lee In-young demanded for the effort prior to the third anniversary of the Panmunjom Declaration in 2018.
The said declaration carried the signatures of South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, pledging to reach “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
“The progress in peace on the Korean Peninsula has been in a standstill for a considerably long time now,” the unification minister exclaimed. “The door for dialogue will be open, whenever and wherever.”
“South Korea will resume inter-Korean talks during the first half of 2021. And during the second half — when we hope the COVID-19 situation will settle down — we aim to find ways to resume implementing inter-Korean agreements again,” he furthered.
The unification ministry also announced on Monday the completion of a $361,945 conference room or 398 million won worth of establishments designated to hold video conferences between the two Koreas in the future.
The fund was used to put up high definition cameras, four LCD monitors measuring 98 inches each, softwares that will be used to connect through videos, along with cables that can accommodate networks from South Korea and the North, the ministry said.
Added to this, the ministry also made a proposal as well as a seating map planned to accommodate participants in Panmunjom and Mount Kumgang safely amid the current pandemic.
“It is necessary that inter-Korean dialogues resume as soon as possible and become more activated at all levels — including summits,” said Lee Jong-joo, unification ministry spokesperson.
But last week, South Korean foreign minister Chung Eui-yong said that the capital city is not intending to pursue a summit between the leaders of the two Koreas.
A North Korean expert at Sejong Institute, Cheong Seong-chang, exclaimed that Chung has “too much of a rosy outlook” by promising to resume negotiations with the North in the present year.
“There’s almost zero percent that such a ‘miracle’ would happen within the first half of the year,” Cheong said in an interview with Daily NK. “The unification ministry keeps daydreaming while not looking straight at reality … Even during the second half of 2021, it would be difficult to expect any special progress in North Korea denuclearization negotiation or inter-Korean relations.”