On Thursday, The Korea Times reported that back in July, when President Moon Jae-in proposed that South Korea conduct talks with the North, the United States was offended. The revelation comes by way of comments from one of the South Korean leader’s envoys while he was speaking at a ceremony.
“The U.S. was deeply disgruntled by Seoul’s offer for military talks,” said Moon Chung-in, special advisor for unification and national security affairs. “U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson lodged a complaint to Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha in harsh tones.”
At the time, Moon-Jae in was an incoming president and tensions with North Korea weren’t nearly as strained as they are currently. From CNN on July 17:
“South Korea’s new government is making overtures to the North, proposing military talks at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates the two rivals.
“In an attempt to defuse rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula, South Korea’s Defense Ministry has proposed talks between representatives of the two countries’ militaries on July 21 at Tongil-gak on the North Korean side of Panmunjom, the so-called truce village in the DMZ.”
On Thursday, the South Korean president, who was also at the ceremony, reiterated his position that communication between the two neighbors on the Korean Peninsula is the key to de-escalating the situation.
“Military dialogue should be resumed urgently to ease tensions between the two countries,” Moon said, according to The Korea Times.
On Friday, in its announcement of the president’s upcoming trip to Asia, the Trump administration said a top priority during his visit will be convincing leaders that the U.S. strategy against the regime of Kim Jong-un is the correct one. From the White House press release:
“The President’s engagements will strengthen the international resolve to confront the North Korean threat and ensure the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
The U.S. strategy, as anyone following the situation can attest, is sanctions. The United States believes the right amount of economic pressure will eventually force Kim to abandon his nuclear program.
Little commentary has been made by the mainstream media about how these economic strikes are affecting the average citizens of North Korea, but the New York Times touched on that aspect Friday. From the article:
“North Korea said on Friday that American-led international sanctions were causing ‘colossal’ damages in the impoverished country, but added that it would be foolish for Washington to think the sanctions would stop the country’s nuclear weapons programs.
“North Korean officials recently set up a committee to investigate the damages that the sanctions have caused on the country’s economy and the well-being of the population. The committee’s work was designed to draw international sympathy by highlighting the sufferings of North Korean children, women and elderly people, analysts said.”
The statement, issued by the Sanctions Damages Investigation Committee and published by the state-run Korean Central News Agency, goes on to call the U.S.-led sanctions “a brutal criminal act that indiscriminately infringes upon the right to existence of the peaceful civilians.”
The committee further states the “colossal” amount of damage to people’s livelihoods is “beyond anyone’s calculation.”