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ROK cautions over DPRK's calls for better ties

Updated: 2014-01-03 16:53
( Xinhua)

SEOUL - The Republic of Korea's top officials recently maintain a cautious stance over the unusual peace appeal offered by the top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in his New Year's address.

The ROK's unification ministry spokesman Kim Eui-do on Friday said Seoul "has no choice but to question the sincerity" of DPRK leader Kim Jong-un's conciliatory stance.

His comments came after Kim Jong-un said in a televised New Year's speech that Pyongyang will "create atmosphere to ameliorate the relations between the DPRK and South Korea".

The spokesman added that Pyongyang expressed similar rhetoric last year, but still taking provocations afterwards including a third nuclear test, threats of nuclear war and unilateral closure of the Kaesong industrial complex.

It again blamed the DPRK for worsening the inter-Korean ties, urging it show sincerity to build trust and take actual efforts for denuclearization.

The ministry on Monday also said in a press release that it will be necessary to closely watch whether Pyongyang's attitude change would go forward.

Meanwhile, the ministry assessed that Kim's address appeared to place its policy emphasis on economic growth in 2014, noting that agriculture would be the focus in the DPRK's economic policy to improve livelihood of people.

Seoul's Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin on Thursday warned that the DPRK may adopt a carrot and stick approach against the ROK, which means Pyongyang could offer to hold dialogue with Seoul while having an ax to grind such as making provocations.

He ordered South Korean military to stay alert to counter any possible provocations from the DPRK.

Minister Kim said last month that Pyongyang will highly likely provoke between late January and early March this year following the purge and execution of Jang Song-thaek, once-powerful uncle of leader Kim Jong-un.

The South Korean military chief said that competition may become excessive among the DPRK military officers as they may seek to show their royalty to leader Kim Jong-un following Jang's execution.

"Given past cases, North Korea (DPRK) took a conciliatory stance when it had to overcome internal difficulties or improve internal situations. At that time, (the DPRK) offered to hold a dialogue and inter-Korean talks happened," Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told reporters.

The ministry said the DPRK made provocations when its internal problems failed to be solved even after buying time during the inter-Korean dialogue, saying that it needs to wait and see whether the DPRK will carry out such two-track strategy of dialogue and provocation.

In December, the DPRK threatened to attack the ROK without any advance notice responding to anti-Pyongyang rallies on the second death anniversary of its leader Kim Jong-il.

However, Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, suggested the ROK make more active response to reconciliatory gesture of Kim Jong-un.

"Kim Jong-un's New Year speech was positive given he did touch on improved inter-Korean relations in a direct way, while refraining from making hostile comments against the United States," Yang told Xinhua.

He said that if the Park administration responds to the DPRK's reconciliatory gesture in an active way, the inter-Korean relations would be restored, forecasting that inter-Korean summit could be held as early as the first half of 2015 if the active response leads to the resumption of the six-party talks and the dialogue between the DPRK and the United States.

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