North Korea closes agencies working for reunification with South

SEOUL: North Korea is formally abolishing a handful of key government agencies charged with promoting cooperation and reunification with the South, state media reported Tuesday.

The decision was announced by the North's rubber-stamp parliament, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said, and came just weeks after the nation's leader Kim Jong Un stated that continuing to seek reconciliation with South Korea was a "mistake."

Inter-Korean relations have sharply deteriorated this year, with Pyongyang's spy satellite launch prompting Seoul to partially suspend a 2018 military agreement aimed at defusing tensions.

Labelling South Korea the "principal enemy", Kim recently declared that efforts to reconcile and reunify with the North's rival "is a mistake that we should no longer make."

In their constitutions both North and South Korea claim sovereignty over the whole of the peninsula.

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Republic of Korea – the North and South's official names – were founded 75 years ago but each still technically regards the other as an illegal entity.

Until now, what passed for their diplomatic relations was handled by Seoul's Unification Ministry and Pyongyang's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification – one of the agencies that the Supreme People's Assembly has now declared abolished.

"The two most hostile states, which are at war, are now in acute confrontation on the Korean peninsula," the decision adopted by the assembly said, according to KCNA.

"The reunification of Korea can never be achieved with the Republic of Korea," it added. — AFP

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