Kim Yeon-chul, South Korea’s unity minister, responsible for North Korea’s affairs, resigned on Friday amid intense tensions with Pyongyang. President MoonJae-in accepted it.
South Korea’s union minister resigned on Friday, June 19. In connection with renewed tensions between the two countries, the person responsible for North Korean issues threw the towel. President MoonJae-in “accepted the resignation proposal of Unity Minister KimYeon-chul”, according to a statement from Blue House, the South Korean presidency, which did not provide further details.
Kim had resigned on Wednesday, the day after North Korea destroyed the liaison office between the two countries on its territory, intending to “take its responsibility” in the deterioration of inter-Korean relations.
>> To read: “Why North Korea Is Currently Attacking Its Neighbor in the South”
Since early June, Pyongyang has multiplied virulent comments against its neighbor, in particular against the North Korean defectors who are sending in from the south on propaganda sheets over the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
Experts say Pyongyang is trying to provoke a crisis to pressure Seoul to secure concessions.
North Korea destroyed this liaison office, which was one of the symbols of detente on the peninsula, on Tuesday. The next day, it threatened to strengthen its military presence along the demilitarized zone.
Fiasco in Hanoi in February 2019
North-South relations have been steadily deteriorating in the wake of the fiasco at the second summit of US President Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jung-un, held in February 2019 in Hanoi.
This meeting was canceled because the two sides could not agree on what Pyongyang would give up in exchange for the sanctions to end.
KimYeon-chul, a very committed academic and long-standing confidant of Mr. Moon, was appointed to this ministry in March 2019, a few weeks after the meeting in Hanoi.
The Korean War (1950-1953) ended on a ceasefire, not a peace treaty, which means that the two neighbors are still technically at war.