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North Korea seeing South Korea as separate nation ‘worrying’: defector-lawmaker

By Kim Arin

Published : July 13, 2023 - 18:49

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Rep. Tae Yong-ho of the ruling People Power Party (Im Se-jun/The Korea Herald) Rep. Tae Yong-ho of the ruling People Power Party (Im Se-jun/The Korea Herald)

North Korea may be beginning to officially re-define its relations with South Korea as two separate nations, according to Rep. Tae Yong-ho of the ruling People Power Party on Thursday.

Tae said that Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, referring to South Korea by its official name, Republic of Korea, in recent statements may be an attempt to recognize it as an independent nation.

Speaking at a plenary session of the National Assembly’s unification committee, Tae said the use of South Korea's official name signals a “worrying shift” in North Korea’s view of the South.

Tae, a former North Korean diplomat who defected to Seoul in 2016, said the move to consider South Korea as a separate nation began in September 2022, with the new North Korean law outlining parameters for nuclear arms use.

He said that the law states that North Korea would use preemptive nuclear strikes even against non-nuclear states in case of a perceived imminent attack against its leadership.

“By regarding South Korea as a separate nation, North Korea is abandoning its ‘special status’ as a divided country pursuing re-unification and closing the legal loophole. South Korea may just well be one of the non-nuclear nations specified by the law,” he said.

“The Unification Ministry ought to question or correct North Korea’s use of our official name.”

Rep. Kwon Young-se, who is due to end his term as Minister of Unification, said in response that while it was unclear what Kim Yo-jong intended by her use of the official name, referring to the Koreas as two separate nations was “unacceptable.”

“Under our Constitution, North Korea is part of our land and North Korean people are our people too. Any departure from that interpretation is unacceptable,” he said.