BRUSSELS/SEOUL (Reuters) – The European Commission said on Monday it would give 10 million euros (9 million pounds) of food aid to North Korea in the face of opposition from South Korea and U.S. doubts about the North’s pleas for help.
The impoverished North has reached out to dozens of countries and organisations around the world for aid, complaining that bad weather, rising global food prices and the termination of aid from principle donors South Korea and the United States had slashed supplies.
SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea has told university students to put their studies on hold for a year to join efforts to revitalise its broken economy ahead of its heralded emergence next year as a “great and prosperous nation”, a top diplomat and media reports said.
The British ambassador to North Korea, Peter Hughes, said while there had been no official announcement from Pyongyang, students in the capital had been mobilised to work at nearby construction sites until April 2012.
SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean officials failed to persuade North Korea to row back on its decision to strip a South Korean company of its contract to run tours to a joint resort in the secretive state and to seize its assets, an official said on Wednesday.
The dispute over the Mount Kumgang resort on the isolated North’s east coast is the latest of litany of issues underscoring the depth of soured relations on the peninsula.
SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea will send government officials and business representatives to a North Korean mountain resort on Wednesday to discuss Pyongyang’s decision to strip a South Korean company of its contract to run tours to the area, an official said.
The North said this month it had revised a law overseeing the tourism project at Mount Kumgang on the east coast, effectively ending Hyundai Asan’s contract to exclusively run all cross-border tours to the resort.
SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s main opposition party hit out against the government’s “hard-line” North Korea policy on Friday after Pyongyang’s embarrassing revelations about a failed secret meeting that have derailed a push for inter-Korean dialogue.
The North blindsided Washington and Seoul this week with a rash of anti-South vitriol, signaling its leader Kim Jong-il probably wants to sit out the term of President Lee Myung-bak due to end in 2013.
SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea delivered a stinging rejection of the South’s proposal for a series of three presidential summits over the next year, giving a blow-by-blow account on Wednesday of a secret meeting between officials of the two countries last month.
A spokesman for the National Defence Commission, the North’s supreme leadership body, said a trio of South Korean officials — from the presidential office, intelligence service and the Unification Ministry — had tried to persuade the North in a meeting in Beijing to agree to the summits to defuse tensions.
SEOUL (Reuters) – Isolated North Korea said on Wednesday it had rejected a proposal by rival South Korea at a secret meeting in Beijing last month to hold a series of three summits to defuse tension on the divided peninsula.
A trio of South Korean officials — from the presidential office, intelligence service and the Unification Ministry — suggested the summits over 12 months, said a spokesman for the National Defense Commission, the North’s supreme leadership body.
SEOUL (Reuters) – Tensions have ebbed on the Korean peninsula after last year’s violence and regional powers are pressing the North and South to iron out their differences at the negotiating table, but aid-for-disarmament talks are still a long way off.
The rival Koreas remain as far apart as ever, and fiery rhetoric is still bandied back and forth. At the end of May, the North’s powerful National Defence Commission said it will no longer deal with President Lee Myung-bak and that it was closing two of the few remaining inter-Korean dialogue channels. As the world continues to shun the North, the state’s secretive leader Kim Jong-il made a surprise trip to China, where he met President Hu Jintao, in what was hailed by state media as a show of their “unbreakable” alliance.
SEOUL (Reuters) – A close aide to South Korean President Lee Myung-bak was arrested on Monday on charges of taking bribes from a now-suspended savings bank, in a case analysts say signals the start of electoral mudslinging and could stall policymaking.
The corruption scandal will likely be followed by a string of other similar cases before next year’s presidential election — as was the case in the latter phases of the last two presidents’ terms — hamstringing Lee’s reform agenda, they say.
SEOUL (Reuters) – U.S. rights envoy Robert King on Friday won the release of an American citizen detained in North Korea on unspecified charges for the past six months, as he wrapped up a visit to the secretive state to assess its pleas for food aid.
The U.S. State Department said it had been informed by Sweden, which looks after U.S. interests in North Korea in the absence of formal diplomatic ties, that Jun Young Su would be freed.