Published: Thu, October 11, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

In North Korea, Yao Ming becomes China’s answer to Dennis Rodman

In North Korea, Yao Ming becomes China’s answer to Dennis Rodman

The sanctions ban all North Korean ships entering South Korean ports and cut off most inter-Korean exchanges, including tourism, trade and aid.

The South Korean government has backtracked on their talk of easing some sanctions on North Korea.

The stark difference in messaging has exposed a long-simmering rift between South Korea and the United States over how to deal with North Korea.

Seoul's potential removal of unilateral sanctions would be a largely symbolic move as it's virtually impossible for South Korea to resume joint economic projects with North Korea under US-led worldwide sanctions, which have been strengthened considerably since 2016 as the North accelerated its nuclear and missile tests. The summit in Pyongyang was called to restart negotiations between the U.S. and the North.

"Many parts of the May 24 measures now duplicate with the United Nations sanctions (against North Korea)", Kang said.

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Improving ties with its communist neighbour may represent Beijing's wish to keep Pyongyang close given the ongoing talks on denuclearisation, particularly with a second summit planned between Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump. South Korea's Unification Ministry on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, said the water is being supplied to a liaison office between the countries that opened in Kaesong in September 2018 and has been provided to the town's residents as well.

The fast pace in inter-Korean engagement appears to have created a level of unease in Washington, which insists that efforts to improve relations between the Koreas should move in tandem with efforts to denuclearize the North.

Kang said Wednesday that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had expressed displeasure about the Koreas' military agreement.

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha takes an oath during a parliamentary audit of her ministry's affairs at its headquarters in Seoul on October 10, 2018.

Despite the current mood of detente and negotiation between the Koreas, the removal of sanctions would be a hard decision for Seoul's government. "I mean there's a need to review it with resilience in the level of not damaging the framework of sanctions on North Korea on the basis that dialogue on denuclearization and an improvement in South-North relations is proceeding".

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And last Saturday, she told reporters in Seoul, according to Bloomberg: "The South Korean government's position on sanction exemptions is that we will request exemptions of sanctions to pursue various collaboration projects between North and South Korea".

"The government should first appeal to the bereaved families for their understanding", Rep. Chung Jin-seok of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, said. Kang's ministry later tried to downplay her comments, saying in a statement that no decision was imminent. North Korean officials have suggested Pyongyang as a site, although that would hand a major propaganda victory to Kim, without him having to make a concession.

But the removal of such sanctions wouldn't be enough to get the tours back on, said Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea expert at Seoul's Dongguk University and a policy adviser to Moon.

"Noting the important steps taken by the DPRK in the direction of denuclearization, the parties considered it necessary to start a timely review by the UN Security Council of the sanctions measures against the DPRK", the Joint Information Communiqué on Tripartite Consultations said.

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