Coronavirus and the North: The two issues of South Korea

Edited By: Palki Sharma WION
New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: Jun 12, 2020, 09:26 PM(IST)

South Korea's Moon Jae-in Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

North Korea suspended communication hotlines with the South over defectors who send material such as anti-North leaflets and rice -- usually by balloon over the heavily fortified border or in bottles by sea. 

South Korea was a success story until the second wave of coronavirus infections hit it. But a series of new clusters in the area around Seoul, the capital, with 56 new cases on Thursday took the national tally to 12,003 and 277 deaths.

The government will now extend prevention and sanitation guidelines against the coronavirus until daily new infections drop to single digits.

The second issue which has been affecting South Korea is its tiff with the North.

North Korea suspended communication hotlines with the South over defectors who send material such as anti-North leaflets and rice -- usually by balloon over the heavily fortified border or in bottles by sea. 

North Korea's media had in recent days denounced the "mongrel dogs" who do it.

South Korea, to this end, said it would take legal action against two organisations that conduct sending propaganda and contraband into the North.

About 33,000 North Korean defectors live in South Korea.

As part of the effort to improve ties with the North, South Korean President Moon Jae-in's administration has sought to discourage the leaflet and rice campaigns, and defectors complained of pressure to avoid criticism of North Korea.

The United States tried to meddle here too. But North Korea said the US had no standing to comment on inter-Korean affairs, and it is in Washington's interest to stay quiet if it wants the upcoming presidential election to go smoothly, state media reported.

The statement came after the US State Department said it was disappointed at North Korea for suspending communication hotlines with South Korea.

"If the US pokes its nose into others' affairs with careless remarks, far from minding its internal affairs, at a time when its political situation is in the worst-ever confusion, it may encounter an unpleasant thing hard to deal with," Kwon Jong Gun, director-general for US affairs at North Korea’s Foreign Ministry, said in comments carried by state news agency KCNA.

With these words, the tensions are ballooning. And the idea of peace in the Korean Peninsula drifts farther away...
 

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