North Korea criticises South for bragging about reached deal

North Korea accuses South of bragging about victorious win in accord which ended armed standoff, arguing that reached agreement came from both sides

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

North and South Korea reached agreement early on Tuesday to end a standoff.

North Korea on Wednesday criticised South Korea for showing “cowardly-like” actions when the South allegedly claimed victory over an agreement between the North and the South last week that succeeded in putting an end to an exchange of artillery fire amid rising tensions between the two nations.

Pyongyang advised the South to be "discreet in words and deeds."

The deal between the two rival Koreas has paved the way for dialogue with the aim of improving ties after a rare exchange of artillery fire took place last week on one of the world's most closely guarded frontiers.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye's approval ratings soared following the agreement, which many South Korean media outlets depicted as a successful win for her tenacious attitude against their neighbouring North Korea.

But the National Defence Commission (NDC) of North Korea dismissed such victorious accomplishment.

"Nothing is more shallow and cowardly than describing the joint statement agreed by North and South together as a victory for one side," the North's government-controlled KCNA news agency quoting the NDC said in a statement.

During the talks, in a bid to ease tensions after North Korea threatened war over the cross-border propaganda broadcasts, the North conveyed remorse regarding the wounding of two South Korean border soldiers in landmine explosions earlier this month.

The South agreed with the North to end anti-North Korea broadcasts over border loudspeakers.

South Korea had previously insisted on an apology for the landmine blasts in the Demilitarized Zone between the two rivals, and officials of the South have described North’s gesture of remorse as an apology, viewing it as a mini-breakthrough which immediately pressed the North to take responsibility for the blast.

However, Pyongyang revoked any notions that held the nation responsible for planting the mines and its NDC said that the nation had expressed sympathy, not an apology.

"Briefly saying 'regret' is nothing more than an expression of 'I feel sorry for what you have been through'," the North Korean commission said.

"The landmine explosion in the Demilitarized Zone was merely an accident of the type that happens too often," they added.

"This kind of interpretation is the result of ignorance on the meaning of a Korean word and its concept."

Responding to Pyongyang statement, the South said both sides should carry out the agreement sincerely.

"It is not the time to ride an emotional roller coaster or argue what's right and wrong about the agreement," said Jeong Joon-hee, a spokesman for the South's Unification Ministry, which handles relations with the North.

The agreement came after a number of negotiations over three days which allowed the two rivals to step back from future threats of war that have escalated tensions since the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel in 2010.

On Saturday, North Korea accepted to join Red Cross talks with South Korea to discuss the possibility of reuniting the families who were split by the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended with a ceasefire that was never ratified by a formal peace treaty; meaning that the two Korean countries have been at war for the last 65 years.

South Korean officials had hoped the accord would encourage warmer ties, but Pyongyang’s denial impairs any prospects left for actual better ties to take place between the two Koreas.

Since conservatives have taken power in Seoul in early 2008, prospects of better relations have become dimmer, including that the two neighbouring nations have had a history filled with failed attempts at reconciliation.

North Korea's hard-line position proved to have not been changed despite the agreement, after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said in a statement last week that the deal was achieved not because of the negotiating table but thanks to his country's military capability based on its "nuclear deterrent."


TRTWorld and agencies